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February 18, 2006

Hedrick v Davis

Just when you thought it was safe to talk about the Winter Olympics, Shay at Booker Rising drops a bomb.

I was trippin' this morning at Olympics coverage. When asked by NBC if Shani Davis was the clear favorite to win the race, Chad Hedrick - who only skated the 1000-meter event five times in his life, prior to the Olympics - touted Joey Cheeks (who just got the silver medal; Mr. Hedrick was in 6th place). Excuse me, but when someone is the world recordholder in an event, has dominated the event in your sport's World Cup series, and hasn't lost a race this season at the distance, he is clear favorite and own up to it.

When asked after the 1,000-meter event if he was happy for Mr. Davis (a rival off the ice), Mr. Hedrick replied:"I'm happy for Joey." Foul. This is white folks not wanting to give a brother due props for his merit in something (note: Mr. Davis got racially charged messages to his personal Web site, "people saying they hoped I would fall, break my leg, using the n-word" after he declined to join the team pursuit event). Or rather, white Americans because apparently the mostly Dutch crowd packed into the arena (Mr. Davis is famous in Holland, where speedskating is very popular) went crazy.

It is in fact true that I do remember the name of Eric Heiden and as a cyclist I still envy speed skaters their thighs. But this smells something like the mess my boy Moe Greene had to deal with. Yike. How much does anybody want to bet that Davis ends up on Bryant Gumbel's show. Won't that be a hoot.

Tim Dahlberg takes Hedrick to task.

Davis spent 17 years as an outcast in a primarily white sport, hoping the whole time that someday he would be able to hold an Olympic gold medal. He did, and was joined on the podium by a guy whose idea of glory is being able to help kids who can't help themselves.

The Olympics don't get any better than this.

There was no reason for Chad Hedrick to try and spoil the whole party.

Hedrick, if you haven't heard, doesn't think much of Davis. Thinks even less of him now because Davis declined an invitation to skate in the team pursuit earlier this week and may have cost Hedrick — who already has one gold medal of his own — another medal by doing so.

So while Davis and Cheek were still celebrating, Hedrick was beneath the stands griping. Not about his own sixth-place finish, because the 1,000 wasn't his best race, anyway. He was griping about people who don't do everything they can to be a part of a team and help the United States win more medals.

He didn't call Davis out by name. He didn't have to.

Now that's drama.

Posted by mbowen at February 18, 2006 02:58 PM

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