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.
That is your best response after you pinged my 2006 post? Also, I had not seen your response until recently.
Finally, I noticed you did not address any of the facts that were presented. Do we want to support American athletes in the Olympics or not?
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