Shani Davis Wins Second Straight 1,000m Speedskating Gold

SpeedskatingSportsShani DavisChad Hedrick

All that mattered this timewas the color of the medal, not the color of his skin.

With a furious kick on the final lap Wednesday, Shani Davisstuck his skate across the line and won his second straight goldmedal in 1,000-meter Olympic speedskating.

Four years ago at Turin, he became the first African-Americanathlete to win an individual gold at the Winter Games. This time,he simply wanted to be known for his skating. Period.

"When you're a world champion or an Olympic champion, you getthis little thing on your back called a target," said Davis, thefirst male skater to win this event a second time at the WinterGames. "To go out there and win the 1,000 meters twice is trulyamazing."

The Americans broke their medal drought at the Richmond OlympicOval with a flourish, claiming not just one but two spots on thepodium. Chad Hedrick, who won three medals at the 2006 games, tooka surprising bronze after struggling to regain his motivation afterItaly.

"I had to dig down deep and find my passion for speedskatingagain," the Texan said.

Davis swung both arms twice on the final backstretch, knowing heneeded a little more speed to catch South Korea's Mo Tae-bum. TheAmerican found just enough, posting a time of 1 minute, 8.94seconds.

Mo, who won gold in the 500 two days ago, settled for silverthis time, 18-hundreths behind Davis. Hedrick was next in 1:09.32.

"Those last 200, 300 meters were very difficult," Davis said."I was just trying to carry my speed. I could feel it leaving me.It doesn't matter what it looks like, just as long as you getacross the line as quick as you could."

Davis pumped his fist in the air and slapped hands with the U.S.coaches on the backstretch. Then, as he coasted around near thefinish line, Hedrick skated over to shake his hand firmly and pathim on the back several times.

Four years ago, their accomplishments in Italy - Davis won agold and silver; Hedrick a medal of each color - were overshadowedby a nasty feud stemming from the team pursuit.

Davis wanted to stick with his individual events, a decisionthat peeved Hedrick, who believed it cost the Americans a shot at amedal.

Their animosity boiled over at a news conference after the1,500, in which Davis finished second and Hedrick third. Hedrickbrought up the team pursuit, and Davis stormed out of the roomcomplaining that Hedrick didn't congratulate him on his gold, onlythe silver.

No hard feelings this time.

The two stood together on the victory stand, each holding oneend of an American flag.

"Everything that Shani and I had in 2006 is behind us now,"Hedrick said. "We're here. We're proud to represent our country.We're proud to put a few more medals on the table of theAmericans."

Davis said these games have been so much more enjoyable than hislast two Olympics. He was accused of benefiting from a fixed raceto get on the short track team as an alternate in 2002, and thedispute with Hedrick certainly rubbed him the wrong way four yearsago.

Now, he can't stop smiling.

"I've learned not to pay attention to things that are negativeand focus on the things that matter," Davis said. "For the mostpart, it's been really good. It's a different type of energy now.People want me to win, whereas maybe before they didn't."

Mo held up two fingers, representing both his finish and histotal haul from these games. South Korea extended its impressiveshowing with two golds and two silvers in the first five events.

"I could have done better," Mo said through a translator."Shani had the greater technique in turning the corners."

Skating in the same pair with Mo, Hedrick nearly clipped a lanemarker in the first turn and appeared to lose valuable time, buthe's always been a strong finisher. Amazingly, he nearly caught thefading Korean at the line.

That turned out to be good enough for bronze.

Lee Kyou-hyuk, a 31-year-old from South Korea, skating in hisfifth Olympics, again failed to make the medal podium. He was ninthin 1:09.92.

The Americans put all four skaters in the top 10 after beingshut out of the medals through the first four events. Nick Pearsonwas seventh in 1:09.79, while Trevor Marsicano took 10th in1:10.11.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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