Denton County cheered from afar as Denton’s Jordan Malone and the USA men’s relay team won a silver Olympic medal, ending a drought for American speedskaters at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
The U.S. team of Malone, J.R. Celski, Eddy Alvarez and Chris Creveling finished second in the 5,000-meter relay with a time of 6:42.371, just behind the Russian squad’s finish of 6:42.100.
“It’s awesome,” said Joey Florence, athletic director for the Denton school district. “I just think it’s a great accomplishment and a payoff of all the hard years and hard work. That’s really all it is. He represents the city of Denton and the United States of America.”
Denton County Judge Mary Horn said Malone’s medal win makes the county proud.
“We’d be honored to be able to recognize his wonderful achievement in Commissioners Court when he comes home,” she said. “That would be really fun. I hope we have a chance to do that.”
City officials said they, too, plan a celebration when the Denton High grad returns.
The American long-track speedskating team failed to get on the podium in 12 events, and the U.S. had been shut out in the first seven events at short track.
Viktor Ahn led Russia to Olympic gold in the relay to give the short-track star a record-tying eighth career medal.
Born in South Korea, Ahn became a Russian citizen in 2011.
Ahn joined Semen Elistratov, Vladimir Grigorev and Ruslan Zakharov in winning Russia’s fifth short-track medal in Sochi.
China took bronze despite crashing on the first lap.
The relay got off to a typically chaotic start with China and the Netherlands crashing not even halfway through the opening lap. It became a two-nation race between Russia and the U.S. for most of the 45 laps.
Creveling briefly put the U.S. in front with 15 laps left, overtaking Grigorev. But Ahn rallied his teammates to victory.
The silver medal helped the Americans avoid a shutout for the first time since 1998 in Nagano.
The Chinese team of Chen Dequan, Han Tianyu, Shi Jingnan and Wu Dajing overcame the early trouble to take bronze.
Earlier, Ahn rallied to win the 500, overtaking Wu on the last lap after Liang Wenhao of China crashed out. It was the only Olympic race Ahn had never captured, and he became the first skater to win all four individual events at an Olympics in his career.
Ahn sustained a major knee injury that prevented him from competing four years ago in Vancouver, and soon after he made Russia his adopted country. Ahn earned bronze in the 1,500, giving Russia its first medal in the sport on the opening day of competition in Sochi. He then won the 1,000.
Wu earned silver and Charle Cournoyer of Canada took bronze in the men’s sprint.
Staff writer Bj Lewis contributed to this report, which contains material from The Associated Press.