Davis Wins Silver; Hedrick Chokes
TOM GOLDMAN: This is Tom Goldman. Long track speed skaters called the 1,500 meters the king's race, and yesterday at the Richmond Olympic Oval, hundreds of fans in Dutch orange - orange pants, wigs, shoes - stood and celebrated the new king, 1,500 winner Mark Tuitert of the Netherlands. He beat the world record holder, Shani Davis, and turned a vision into reality.
Mr. MARK TUITERT (Speed Skater, Netherlands): I've been looking towards the BC Place, where the medals ceremonies are, for two weeks from the view of our balcony. And I thought, well, I want it so, so bad. I want to be there on the podium.
GOLDMAN: He got to the top of the podium with a time half a second faster than Davis.
Mr. SHANI DAVIS (U.S. Speed Skater): I don't see it as me losing, because I really did, I put everything out into the race and it was a silver medal. But I still someday, I still want to be able to win this race. It's still my favorite race.
GOLDMAN: His quest to win the 1,500 - he also finished second in 2006 - could bring the 27-year-old Davis back four years from now. But his American rival, Chad Hedrick, is done, and it wasn't the finish he envisioned. Hedrick also was a favorite in the 1,500, and the 32-year-old Texan knew how perfect it would be to end his career with a win. Normally, right before the race he'd shut off that thought and focus, but Hedrick couldn't. In his words, he panicked.
Mr. CHAD HEDRICK (U.S. Speed Skater): It just hit me, you know. You don't know until you're there in the moment. Does anybody know they're going to cry at their wedding? No. It's the same type of thing, you know. So, it was just that one moment. I'm in the warm-up room just thinking about it and then all of the sudden it's time to go in the middle of the track and put your skates on. And you thought you were ready emotionally but you're not.
GOLDMAN: Hedrick managed a sixth place finish. With a pained smile, he said he wouldn't let the race define his career, a career in which he won four Olympic medals. Solace for sure, but not yesterday.
Tom Goldman, NPR News, Vancouver.
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