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Hedrick Says There's More Gold to Come (A Texan for GWB!)
Associated Press ^ | 02/12/2006 | Paul Newberry

Posted on 02/13/2006 7:58:29 AM PST by Theoden

TURIN, Italy - Chad Hedrick cut through the ice in his first Olympic race — arms swinging furiously, body gently swaying, mouth hanging open. When he crossed the line, flipped back his hood and caught a glimpse of the scoreboard, it was time to let out a Texas-sized yell. Yeeeaaaaah! "The Exception" was downright exceptional.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: athletes; bushpeople; hedrick; olympics; teamusa; turnin; usa
Hedrick took the first step toward Eric Heiden's Holy Grail of Winter Olympic records — five gold medals in 1980 — with a dominating win Saturday in the 5,000 meters, the first speedskating race of the Turin Games.

Even though it's only one down and four to go, Hedrick didn't plan for this to be his only trip to the top of the medals podium.

"I didn't come here to win one gold medal," said the 28-year-old Texan, flashing his toothy grin. "You're going to see my face a lot more."

While that was typical Hedrick bravado, the scene that unfolded before the race was hardly expected.

After a light jog around the edge of the oval, he headed downstairs to get in some stretching. Suddenly, Hedrick's body began to shake. Then, the tears started to flow. Maybe it was the thought of his grandmother, who died 13 years earlier to the day. Maybe it was just the inevitable nervousness that goes along with that first Olympic race.

Whatever the case, it took a hug from his coach, some good-natured kidding from teammate Derek Parra and a quick visit with his family in the stands before Hedrick settled down.

Then, it was time to get down to business. When Hedrick stepped to the line, he was in control. The former world champion from inline skating who made the switch to ice less than four years ago, knew it was his moment.

The ice was soft, making it difficult to build up power in the curves, but Hedrick persevered better than anyone else. His winning time of 6 minutes, 14.68 seconds was nearly six seconds off the world record but almost two seconds ahead of the runner-up, Sven Kramer of the Netherlands.

"He can work his way through the turns because he's physically stronger than the other skaters," said his father, Paul Hedrick. "And he's mentally stronger, too, so he can fight through the pain."

When Hedrick stepped to the line, he sucked in a couple of deep breaths before taking his stance. Then, he was off on a grueling, 12 1/2-lap journey, knowing that Kramer — who broke Hedrick's world record back in November — had already put up a time of 6:16.40.

Hedrick was a little off the leader's pace after the first half-lap, but he steadily chipped away at the deficit on the next two trips around the 400-meter oval. By the 1,400 mark, Hedrick had the best time on the board, a margin that grew to as much as 2 1/2 seconds over Kramer.

"After I got through the first four or five laps, I knew it was going to be a good day for me," Hedrick said. "Everything was working good. I was totally in control of my skating. I was like a quarterback who knows what the defense is doing."

When Hedrick made his victory lap around the rink, the predominantly Dutch crowd stood in unison and applauded the brash American who conquered its powerful team. Someone even tossed the Texan an orange cap — the familiar color of the speedskating-crazed nation.

Kramer got a bad break when he was drawn to skate in the pairing ahead of Hedrick, giving the U.S. star a chance to see what time he needed to beat.

"This race was decided before the race," the 19-year-old said.

Enrico Fabris thrilled the few Italians who bothered to show up by rallying over the final laps to claim the bronze.

For Hedrick, it all began in suburban Houston, where his father owns a roller-skating rink. Dad guided his son toward skating — on wheels, rather than ice — when he was still a toddler and coached him through the formative years, prodding Chad with stinging criticism that proved to be the right motivational touch.

Hedrick didn't just get mad — he became a champion, winning some 50 world titles on wheels before the lure of winning an Olympic medal drew him to speedskating shortly after Parra won gold and silver at the Salt Lake City Games in 2002.

Hedrick was cheered on by first lady Laura Bush — another Texan watching from the stands with daughter Barbara — and Heiden, who still works with the U.S. speedskating program.

Afterward, Heiden, now an orthopedist, headed for the stands, where Hedrick's entourage watched the race in red sweatshirts emblazoned with "The Exception" across the front, tucked inside a white logo in the shape of Texas.

Paul Hedrick, wearing a black cowboy hat, and his wife, Wanda, were led to an impromptu meeting with the president's wife. "We're Bush people," the beaming mother told the first lady.

"Well, we're Chad Hedrick people," Mrs. Bush replied.

Hedrick's nickname was given to him by Parra, who said his pal is the exception to every rule that speedskaters are supposed to follow. The Texan likes to stay out late and celebrate his victories with a cold beer.

"I've never been one to go home and go to bed at 10 o'clock when I do something well," he said. "We're going to go out and celebrate."

Next up is the team pursuit on Wednesday, a new event in which Hedrick will anchor a three-man team in two days of head-to-head competition.

But U.S. hopes of winning a medal took a severe blow when 1,000 world record holder Shani Davis confirmed he won't be part of the team. He wants to concentrate on his individual events.

Hedrick also is a longshot in the 1,000, where subpar starts tend to hinder his shortest event. But he feels as though he's on a roll.

"This gives me more confidence to do my next race," he said. "The more fun I have, the better I do. I'm ready to go."

1 posted on 02/13/2006 7:58:32 AM PST by Theoden
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To: Theoden

It had to hurt the AP writer to publish this something awful.

2 posted on 02/13/2006 8:03:22 AM PST by in hoc signo vinces ("Houston, TX...a waiting quagmire for jihadis. American gals are worth fighting for!")
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To: Theoden
This is great!

Of course, if he wins "too many medals", some commentator may indicate that his unilateral and selfish monopoly of the gold will contribute to anti-American feelings around the globe. Just a hunch.

3 posted on 02/13/2006 8:03:39 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (E)
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To: ClearCase_guy; in hoc signo vinces
Hedrick will be the athlete I will cheer for the most this Olympics. He has a chance for 4 more golds! He is also a heck of a lot better than that Bode Miller guy. I never thought that I would root against an American, but I did yesterday. Too bad.
4 posted on 02/13/2006 8:07:53 AM PST by Theoden (Fidei Defensor - Deus vult!)
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To: Theoden

What's wrong with Bode Miller?

5 posted on 02/13/2006 8:08:52 AM PST by Pyro7480 (Sancte Joseph, terror daemonum, ora pro nobis!)
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To: Pyro7480
IMO, he comes across as being a jerk. Maybe thats just how the media is portraying him, I don't know, but they guy is definitely full of himself.

Though, in his defense, he is a good skier, and seemed pleasant enough after his 4th(5th?) place finish yesterday.
6 posted on 02/13/2006 8:16:16 AM PST by Theoden (Fidei Defensor - Deus vult!)
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To: ClearCase_guy
God Bless the Dutch for their unabashed enthusiasm and support for the USA's win.

I noticed it was an orange cap that was thrown and not a turban. sarcasm/off
7 posted on 02/13/2006 8:17:20 AM PST by not2worry (What goes around comes around.)
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To: not2worry
I probably should have italicized that too. The Dutch are good allies and friends, and I was very happy to see them cheer for one of our athletes.
8 posted on 02/13/2006 8:20:27 AM PST by Theoden (Fidei Defensor - Deus vult!)
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To: Theoden
No fan of Bode's since he came out swinging at Lance Armstrong. Saying he knew that Armstrong used drugs.

However, he made a profound comment on success.

Bode said that if he won a race but thought he could have done better he didnt' consider that success......but if he lost a race but was sure he did his best then he considered that a success.

9 posted on 02/13/2006 8:28:40 AM PST by OldFriend (The Dems enABLEd DANGER and 3,000 Americans died.)
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To: Theoden; OldFriend; Pyro7480
I think you guys are seriously mistaken. I've been a fan of Bode for about 20 years.(Yes, you read that right.) What I've been seeing lately is just another shameful display of media distortion and ignorance written by hacks that clearly don't have the most basic understanding of ski racing or Bodes capabilities as an athlete.

The Armstrong quote was blown out proportion by jackasses looking to create controversy out of nothing. He was talking about some of extreme measures that Lance had to go to to protect himself against doping accusations and wasn't accusing Lance of doping. Bode has never been a media savvy individual since he grew up without watching TV and doesn't watch it much now. For last two years he had boycotted talking to the American Press, because he saw them as a bunch of clueless harpies. Unfortunately he signed the Big Nike contract and he wasn't allowed to play that game anymore. He's naively tried to be honest with the press, because that's largely his nature, and that tact has backfired on him.

With regards to him racing "Drunk" last year.(He was hungover) He had just one the Men's overall Title the night before the Race in question. I wonder how many members of the Pittsburgh Steelers were in shape to play football the day after winning the Superbowl? He took 6th place in that race, which is respectable no matter what shape your in.

I saw some NBC talking head yapping about him living in he RV this week as opposed to staying in the Olympic Village like it was somehow antisocial, blah, blah, blah. He's lived in that RV for the last 3 years on the World Cup circuit. It wasn't unusual or antisocial for him to do so. It's his home on the road and he's comfortable there. Since, it's close to the slope, he can rest between runs, study film etc. Why should he break from his normal routine just for the Olympics? It's always a bad idea to change your environment if you've been successful with it.

NBC would have you believe that the only ski race in the world it the Olympic Downhill. Actually, World Cup Ski Racers don't give a crap about the Olympics from a competition standpoint. It can be a big pay day for the guy that wins but they care a lot more about the World Cup, since it measures an athlete over the course of lengthy season. Bode won that title last year, which is why he's considered the best ski racer in the world. He didn't actually win a lot of ski races to get that title

In a Downhill there are about 15 different athletes that can win on any given Day. These athletes are talented enough to be in the right position to win, but on race day, luck can play a major part. Snow conditions, weather, ski preparation are also critical factors in what happens. In his career, Bode has only won 3 Downhills. He was by no means favored to win this one, and a fifth place was not a disappointment for him no matter what the media played it up to be.

Sorry for rambling, but in regards to Bode please take everything that the Media feeds you with a grain of salt, the same as you would if they were reporting on a Republican President. Bode seriously considered not doing the Olympics this year because he knew he would have to deal with the ignorance of the American Media. He hates the attention. All he ever wanted to do in life was ski fast. Please understand that and watch with a more critical eye in the future.

10 posted on 02/13/2006 11:02:19 AM PST by skikvt (7th Infantry Division, Buffaloes)
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To: skikvt

Hey, maybe he and Barbara Bush would make a good couple?

11 posted on 02/13/2006 11:04:34 AM PST by princess leah
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To: skikvt

I respect your response, and I'll keep your points in mind. I admit that I do not know much about him, only from what I've seen on television.

12 posted on 02/13/2006 4:17:33 PM PST by Theoden (Fidei Defensor - Deus vult!)
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