Douglas C. Pizac/AP
December 18, 2007 11:15 AM

For Apolo Anton Ohno, competing in – and winning – the fourth season of Dancing With the Stars last spring was a pretty nice diversion. But this weekend he returns to his first love, competitive speed skating, for the first time since March.

Ohno, 25, will take the ice at the U.S. Short-Track Championships in Utah this weekend, the first major event in the lead-up to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. And thanks to his dance moves, he’s an even bigger draw now than he used to be.

“My name recognition and face recognition was very high, just from the Olympic Games and some of the things I had done,” Ohno tells the Salt Lake Tribune. “But after the show, it was – still, it’s insane. It’s absolutely insane. It has been a blessing, it has. I’ve been very, very, very lucky, and I’m enjoying it.”

After so much time on the dance floor, the two-time Olympic gold medalist is eager to test his skills back on the oval.

Time to Race Again

“I basically took two full summers off,” he says. “Not a good idea, for any athlete. But the transition has been going well. I’m excited about this competition. I haven’t raced for quite a long time, and it’s about time.”

Ohno, who won DWTS with Julianne Hough, recently bought a house in Utah and hired a new coach – as he begins his serious preparations for another run at Olympic glory.

“I’m just happy to be skating again,” he says. “I love skating. I’m trying to balance my life outside of skating, as well. That’s the hardest part, but it’s going well.”

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