OLYMPIC SPEEDSKATING Hedrick second to De Jong in 10,000 to get third medal
The Texan is only the third American to win at least three medals.
TURIN, Italy (AP) -- Mouth agape, tongue hanging out, head tilting over -- Chad Hedrick looked like he was done.
Ever so deftly, Dutch skater Carl Verheijen pulled up right behind him. Suddenly, Hedrick shifted into another gear with a burst of short, choppy strides -- and took off.
Already out of the gold and fading, the brash-talking Texan played for second in his final Olympic race at these games.
Hedrick finished off a complete set of speedskating medals Friday, settling for silver behind Bob de Jong of the Netherlands in the grueling 10,000 meters after a bit of cat-and-mouse with Verheijen, who finished third.
Hedrick, who already had a gold and a bronze, became just the third U.S. Winter Olympian to claim as many as three medals at one games.
"My heart is bigger than anybody else out there," Hedrick said. "If another skater had felt like I did today, he wouldn't have been on the podium. That's just me refusing to lose."
Four seconds behind
Actually, he did lose, finishing nearly four seconds behind de Jong. But in true Hedrick fashion, he talked up his head-to-head battle with Verheijen in the final pairing as though that was the race for gold.
Hedrick was watching the Dutchman on the video screens at each end of the rink. On the changeover with 31/2 laps to go, Verheijen slid into Hedrick's draft, having whittled down a deficit of more than 4 seconds.
"I could feel Carl catching me," Hedrick said. "I decided with six laps to go that the best way was to rest a little bit, let him catch me, let him think he has me. Then I sprinted away from him on that one lap."
Verheijen scoffed at Hedrick's strategy.
"I'm glad Chad was thinking about me rather than himself," he said. "Instead of considering how to win the silver medal, he should have considered how to win the gold medal."
Typical Hedrick. The guy who feuded with teammate Shani Davis stirred things up right to the end. The speedskating competition ends today with the women's 5,000.
"He has an attitude we're not used to," Verheijen said.
Eyed Heiden's record
Hedrick wanted to make a run at Eric Heiden's record five gold medals. Instead, he'll have to be content with joining Heiden and Sheila Young as the only Americans to win as many as three medals of any color at a Winter Games.
De Jong's winning time of 13 minutes, 1.57 seconds was nearly four seconds better than his personal best.
Hedrick finished in 13:05.40 -- a full 10 seconds off the world mark he set in December at Salt Lake City. Verheijen took the bronze in 13:08.80.
Hedrick admitted that his decision to compete in five events over a 13-day period took a toll. His legs felt heavy. His skates didn't seem to cut through the ice as they did in his dominating 5,000 victory.
Maybe that's why Hedrick didn't seem too upset when it was over. He flashed a big smile as he stepped on the podium, then jogged around the edge of the ice carrying an American flag.
"That's the deal when you pick five events and try to go for something special," he said. "You're going to sacrifice time in some events."
Not content with his performance, the 28-year-old Hedrick brushed aside his previous talk of making these a one-and-done Olympics. He'll be back for the 2010 Vancouver Games, looking to do even better.
"I'm very happy with my accomplishments," he said. "At the same time, I feel like I left a lot of medals out there."
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