Skip to comments.Without Davis, Hedrick can't equal Heiden(Shani Davis skating for himself...screws US team)
Posted on 02/16/2006 7:22:01 AM PST by rbmillerjr
Without Davis, Hedrick can't equal Heiden
February 16, 2006
BY JAY MARIOTTI Sports Columnist
TURIN, Italy -- Chad Hedrick's dream of becoming the 21st-century Eric Heiden is over. Which means Shani Davis' national nightmare might be beginning.
With Hedrick reduced to shouting in frustration Wednesday, an American team without Davis was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the team pursuit competition in Olympic long-track speedskating. That quickly, so went Hedrick's chances of equaling Heiden's legendary 1980 record of five Winter Games gold medals.
And that ominously, the focus turned to Davis, the South Side native and 2005 world all-around champion. Saying he wanted to concentrate on his strongest individual event, the 1,000 meters this Saturday, Davis bowed out of the team pursuit despite the objections of Hedrick, who said the U.S. relay would win "a sure gold medal'' if Davis raced.
Now that Hedrick can win only four golds, Davis faces criticism if the Texan -- cheered on by Laura Bush and daughter Barbara during his victory in the 5,000 last weekend -- sweeps his individual events and falls just short of Heiden.
Hedrick tried to downplay Davis' absence, instead bemoaning a lost opportunity in the race. The U.S. team had the lead after four laps, only to fall behind by a lap and a half and lose to Italy before a charged-up crowd at Oval Lingotto.
"I can't think what might have been with Shani there,'' Hedrick said. ''We had a team with good skaters. They all went out there and gave their hearts and tried their best. There's no one to blame.''
But then he changed course on his missing teammate.
"Every chance to represent your country and show what your country can do, I think you should take it,'' Hedrick said. "Other people may think differently.''
He followed with what sounded like a WWE challenge to Davis in the 1,000.
"I'm going to bounce back and prove to everybody what I can do,'' Hedrick said. "You may beat Chad Hedrick once, but you're not going to beat him twice.''
The telling visual -- Hedrick gesturing emotionally on the track after 35-year-old teammate KC Boutiette crossed the finish line behind Italy's Stefano Donagrandi -- is all anyone has to know. Hedrick also tried to downplay the five-gold angle, telling reporters: "You guys put pressure on me to win the five golds. The five medals is not a big thing.''
His coach suggested otherwise.
"Of course, he's upset,'' Bart Schouten said. "But he couldn't blame anybody and didn't want to blame anybody. When he loses, he blames himself.''
The blanks can be filled in easily enough, knowing the contentious gulf between the Davises -- Shani and his outspoken mother, Cherie -- and U.S. Speedskating officials. Hedrick and the other racers sometimes seem like innocent victims in a blood feud.
Asked if Davis would have made a difference, Boutiette said, "No comment.''
Hedrick's teammates in the pursuit -- Boutiette and Charles Ryan Leveille Cox -- were left to explain what went wrong. With Hedrick bolting out like the dominant skater he is, the Americans seemed in good shape. But Boutiette didn't keep up the pace, causing him and Hedrick to second-guess their strategy of having Boutiette in the final slot.
"Our best bet would have been to have Chad in the back,'' Boutiette said. "When it gets to a certain point, your body does give out. I'm not a young buck anymore. I gave it my all. After I pulled my lap, I knew I was in trouble.''
"Me and Chad beat them across the line,'' Leveille Cox said, "but it just wasn't quite enough today.''
There was, after all, a missing link.
Oh, I'm racist because I criticize
Just like a Canadian conservative...conservative is obviously a relative term when used by some Canadiens.
He is a little punk a*** b**** who cares nothing about his teammates or his country. We'll take his medal count but he won't get respect from his team or the majority of his countrymen.
Nice tude in that interview.
He is a total POS, worse than I imagined.
Can't you guys convince him to become a Canadian citizen.
Why is he is selfish? Because he wouldn't give up his individual accomplishment so that Hedrick would achieve his individual accomplishment? It's not like they know each other or are best friends. Speedskating is an individual sport, they should have had the relay not conflict with the individual events.
I'm not even talking about his selfishness in not skating for the US to get a certain medal in the team pursuit.
That is reprehensible itself.
However, I'm talking about that chip on the shoulder interview he did with the female reporter. He acted like a total a1 asshole.
No debating that my friend. It is what it is.
Should I be upset that a fierce individualist excelled at his chosen event and then opted to snub NBC? Shouldn't more Americans act in this manner?
What I find more interesting is how the MSM can't decide how to respond to Shani Davis. On the one hand he's a black athlete from "gang-infested" streets of Chicago. Perfect fodder for an NBC "special interest, personal story" piece. On the other hand, he clearly displays a strong resentment towards the MSM. The lack of coverage of this guy leading up to his race last night indicates that NBC has chosen to ignore this story. It has too much potential to offend the largely white winter Olympics audience, and NBC's portraying this particular black athlete accurately might (wrongly) be construed as racist by the rest of the media.
The facts are obvious: Shani Davis -- while the best skater out there -- is personally unlikable. How can that be portrayed without NBC being accused of being racist? What works for T.O. -- part of the predominantly black NFL -- doesn't work here.
"Shouldn't more Americans act in this manner? "
Yes, I want my kid to grow up and act like Shani Davis.
The media was all setup to embrace him as the winter sport Jackie Robinson. They are stumped but I did see one fluff piece on msnbc this morning (inner city single mother bla bla bla)
The media wanted their liberal icon barrier breaker...but what they got was a self-hating and destructive personality who despises America and is too angry to even accept the millions corporations would pour into his bank accout.
If it wasn't so pathetic it would be almost enjoyable.
Was that intended to be cute?
I have always been an admirer of Freerepublic for having balanced viewpoints on both sides so here is my two cents.
When I first heard this story I got the impression that Shani Davis had let his teammates down. However further research shows the following:
1. Shani Davis was not originally selected for the pursuit team.
The articles make it sound as though he backed out and left his teammates high and dry. In fact, he never skated with the pursuit team, never practiced with them and was not an original member of the team. (Thanks to Wikipedia for good info). He was asked to participated, but how soon before the olympics is a matter of dispute.
2. Eric Heiden (Dr. Heiden) Defends Him
I have tremendous respect for Eric Heiden who is considered probably the greatest speed skater in history. Many press articles state that Heiden had "...a few choice words" for Shani Davis. But in Eric Heiden's actual articles he sings a much different tune by saying,
"Davis did the right thing by not skating in the pursuit. His goal was to skate the 1,000 and the 1,500. He was put in a unique position with team pursuit. It's a new race for the Olympics and the format was something that none of the teams were quite sure how to deal with."
Further in this article he notes that
"Another thing that people may be overlooking is that, in Salt Lake City, Davis was a member of the short-track team for a relay race, but didn't get to skate. So he's been in that situation before, where he didn't get to participate and he didn't want to do that to somebody here. It's tough to fault him for what he did. He may look selfish, but he was in that same position four years ago and didn't want anyone else to be in that position here."
In other words, Shani Davis felt bad about knocking someone out of an Olympic spot in Salt Lake and then not racing. He stated that the would never take a spot from someone again which hardly makes him sound self-centered. see also
The actual quote from Shani in the above article is, ""I'll say this 100 times,'' he said. "... After 2002, when I went to the Olympics but didn't get to skate, I told myself that I would never, ever take someone else's opportunity to skate at an Olympic Games.''
I am sure that this controversy will continue to rage, but given the information I found beyond the basic headlines, I have to wonder if the some of this controversy is not due to the press playing on the competitive nature of two very good athletes, Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis.
A nice rationalization.
Heiden actually criticized Davis initially, but is likely tying to kill the controversy now.
Jansen says Davis is not a team player and should have skated.
The fact that Davis won the one thousand really is irrelevant. Because Davis won gold in his main event excuses him from not skating in a team even for his country....? That doesn't justify anything. He should skate for his team and his country. He didn't. Fine. But the majority of Americans won't forgive him for that. He is not a team player and a piss poor American.
I am not sure why my post is a rationalization and yours is fact. However, you do have a point. The argument could be made that Shani Davis could have skated both the team event and his individual event.
But, it does appear that Shani was asked to participate late in his training cycle. This was after he had tried to qualify both for the short and long track teams, something that no one else was doing. Apparently he would be the first US Skater to qualify for both teams (see below) so I would suspect that training for BOTH teams had to impact his endurance, health, etc.
Heiden seems to echo this concern in the article I quoted in my previous post. BTW, can you point me to Heiden's initial critcisms of Davis?
It still looks to me as though the media has made a rush to judgement here, and I would probably agree with them and you if everyone on the U.S. spoke badly about Shani Davis.
But that fact that Joey Cheeks speaks well of him (and can be seen clapping for him on the podium during the medal presentation) along with Davis's long-time friendship Apolo Anton Ohno seems to support a press rush to judgement more than facts in evidence.
Also, Shani's Gold Medal is a Gold Medal for America. That's how it counts nationally and internationally.
Mostly themselves. In America there is little if any governmental support for athletes. Most people have no idea how hard it is to get to achieve that level of competitiveness in any sport. The dedication is single-minded and the determination absolute.
But that doesn't change the fact that most of these athletes are delighted and deeply proud to hear their national anthem play, and to represent America. But it's a highly individual pursuit.
I agree with you Zack.
I see Shani Davis as an inspiration...not a selfish man. So he chose to put more focus in achieving a gold medal in the individual 1000m, that doesn't make him a bad guy.
Ahhhh how do you feel about your post after seeing Shani Davis’ medal ceremony? He did not place his hand on his heart or look at the FLAG. Zero on the campaign trail is what I saw.
PS. I wasn’t thrilled with Shaun White’s air guitar, but at least he is a proud American.
Not to mention that further investigation of his mother, his statements, and the way the other Americans feel about him. So I add that to the 1,000 word picture ... Two plus Two Equals Four.
So are you trying to say that Shani Davis is a bad American because he did not have his hand over heart during the national anthem? How do we know what he was thinking?
What about the fact that he skates around the track with a US flag and his teammate, Chad Hedrick, the very person who started this controversy in the first place? See http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/vancouver/speedskating/2010-02-18-oly-speedskaters_N.htm for photo.
(For some reason this photo will not paste, but it shows Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick smiling and skating with a US flag.)
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, which picture should we focus on? This photo this seems to me to reflect well on American sportsmanship. Given that Davis and Hedrick managed to bury the hatchet, it is too bad that so many others cant seem to do the same.
If you dont like this guy, there is nothing that will change your mind. The question becomes, is your dislike so strong that you would rather America not win any medals in this event than for Shani to win them?
After all of this time it is too bad that so many focus on personal dislike instead of celebrating American achievement in the Winter Olympics.
Why are you pinging me and commenting on this story from FEB. of 2010???
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