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Simon Cho's Olympic speedskating opportunity rewards his family's investment
Cho's family joined him shortly before the trials, which took place over four days in mid-September. On day two, Cho surprisingly emerged. After finishing fifth in the 1,500 meters, he faced a brutal field in the 500. Cho lined up with Ohno, world-medalist J.R. Celski and Jeff Simon, winner of six World Cup medals, all of whom were considered favorites.
On the fourth lap of the short race, Celski and Ohno got entangled, and Celski, who ended up on the ice, was disqualified. Simon fell after running into Ohno, and Cho cruised across the finish line with a stunning victory.
"I thought I had no chance of making it until once the ball got rolling," Cho said. "As the skating progressed, I got better and better with each passing race."
By the end of the weekend, Cho's place on the U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver was secure.
Jang said last week that Cho has since pushed himself into Olympic medal contention. In November, he finished fourth in the 500 at a World Cup event in Seoul, then placed sixth at a World Cup in Montreal. He will compete in the individual 500 and the 5,000 relay in Vancouver.
"That's why I brought him to the United States: to give him a lot of chances," Jay Cho said. "I had, actually, confidence. As long as Simon has [a] strong mentality -- because he has talent -- as long as he try, I thought [the Olympics] could be possible."
Perhaps of greatest relief to the family: Cho has been receiving USOC funds since making the Olympic team. Jay Cho said he hopes his son will land a sponsor or two through his performance at the Olympic Games.
In any case, Jay Cho said, his family would remain in Salt Lake City after the Games, continuing to support a career that has been both hard and sweet.
"We're halfway to the American dream," Jay Cho said. "If Simon made the final in the Olympic Games, or if Simon gets some medals, it means we make the American dream."