UPDATE 02/27:Chad Hedrick and the U.S. team took home the silver in the team pursuit Saturday. The Canadian team edged them by just 0.21 seconds.
Hedrick says this is his last Olympic race. During this career he won five Olympic medals, three at the Torino Olympics in 2006 and two in Vancouver (bronze in the 1000m and a silver in the team pursuit). When I spoke to him before the Olympics, he said he wasn't sure what his next career move would be, but plans to return to Spring. Congratulations on a job well done!
UPDATE 02/20: In his last individual race, Chad Hedrick placed sixth in the men's 1,500-meter speedskating race Saturday. Mark Tuitert of The Netherlands took the gold medal in an upset over heavy favorite, U.S. speedskater Shani Davis.
UPDATE 02/17: Chad Hedrick won the bronze medal in the men's 1,000-meter speedskating race Wednesday. WIth a time of 1:09:32 Hedrick was just four tenths of a second behind teammate Shani Davis, who won the gold. Hedrick has two more races: the 1500m airs Saturday, 7 p.m.-10:30 p.m. and the team pursuit Feb. 27, 12 p.m.-5 p.m. on Channel 2.
UPDATE 02/13: Hedrick placed 11th in the 5,000-meter speedskating race Saturday afternoon in Vancouver. This was not predicted to be his strongest event and he has three more chances at an Olympic medal.
It's rare to find a Texan, let alone a Houstonian, in the Winter Olympics. It's a hot, flat state with a serious deficit in all things frozen, except for margaritas.
Even so, Houstonians occasionally make it to the Winter games (remember Tara Lipinski?) and this year we are represented by speed skater Chad Hedrick. He got his start on roller skates as the son of Champions Roller World owners Paul and Wanda Hedrick in Spring. From there he moved to inline skates and then shifted to ice.
I recently spoke with him about the upcoming games. The underlying theme in the conversation was about how much he has changed since his first Olympics.
He describes himself as "ultra competitive" the first time around, and said he felt like it was him "against the world on the ice." But he had the talent to back it up, winning three medals. While he says he had a great Olympic experience, it was tinged with controversy when he criticized teammate Shani Davis for refusing to join the team pursuit. The brouhaha overshadowed both skaters' accomplishments.
Now four years later, Hedrick's life has completely changed and he describes himself as a "brand new Chad" on his site. He married Houstonian Lynsey Adams, who he met through mutual friends. At the time he was living in Salt Lake City, but what is distance when love is in the air? He flew her out and they spent their first date exploring Park City, Utah. The couple has a 10-month-old daughter. Being a father has revolutionized his life, Hedrick said. He's now even sponsored by Pampers.
Another big change: He and his wife recently became Christians and were baptized this past Thanksgiving. Photos of his little girl, wife and scripture dominate his Web site and Twitter account, indicative of his new life outside the games.
Hedrick will defend his Olympic title in the 5000 meter race Saturday. He's also competing in the 1500m, 1000m and team pursuit. To see air times, visit NBC's Olympic website.
See an interview with Chad by NBC's Owen Conflenti below: