KEARNS, Utah -- For short-track speedskaters Emily Scott and Eddy Alvarez, second place was good enough for a first -- they each made their first Olympic teams.
Scott and Alvarez clinched spots on the U.S. Olympic women's and men's teams for the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, after they finished second in the 500-meters in the U.S. trials at the Utah Olympic Oval.
Winners of the three trials races -- the 500, 1,000 and 1,500 -- qualify for the U.S. team. But Saturday's 500 races were swept by J.R. Celski and Jessica Smith, both of whom earned spots Friday when they won their respective 1,500s. Thus the next team spots went to second-place finishers.
Alvarez, a former inline skater from the Miami area, was backed by a cheering section of more than two dozen supporters. The 23-year-old has battled injuries but was one of three members of the World Cup team to medal this season.
Scott, 24, is a five-time world champion inline skater from Springfield, Mo. She didn't know she was headed to Sochi when she finished.
"I'm speechless," she said. "I didn't even know until my coach congratulated me. I was just going out there to race."
By winning the 500s on Saturday, both Smith, 30, and Celski, 23, ensured they will be skating in at least two races at the Olympics. For Smith, it's her first trip to the Olympics after falling one spot short of the 2010 team.
Without eight-time Olympic medalist Apolo Ohno, Celski will anchor the men's team. The 500-meters world record-holder won a couple of bronze medals in Vancouver and is ranked No. 11 in the world.
The success of short-track teams -- still recovering from turmoil and scandal over the last two years -- has helped give U.S. speedskaters more Winter Games medals than any other sport. But next month they will be without Ohno and Katherine Reutter of Champaign, a two-time Olympic medalist who retired last year.
There are three more spots available for the men in the Olympics but the women are competing for just one more. The women did not qualify for the Winter Games' team relay for the first time.
The short-track trials end with the 1,000 on Sunday. For the men, whoever finishes first and second will make the team. If a spot remains available after that, the trials' overall points leader will get it.
For the women, the final spot will go to the winner of the 1,000. If Smith and Scott claim first and second, the third team slot will go to the overall points winner at the trials.
Lana Gehring of Glenview, Ill., who won an Olympic bronze in 2010 in the team relay, fell to eighth in overall points Saturday.
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