Speed Skating

Hall of Fame

Born: April 17, 1977 - Spring, Texas (USA)

It was quite the revolution. At the start of the 2004 World Championships (WC) all-round few doubted that the winner would be a Dutchman, only his name remained to be determined. But things turned out a little bit different. The American Chad Hedrick, who had first begun speed skating less than two years earlier and up until that weekend hadn’t won any international titles on the ice, finished first. His compatriot Shani Davis, also a new star on the horizon, won the silver medal. For the coming years, the Dutch supremacy was over.

Hedrick was born in 1977 and, so he states on his website, started skating on roller blades when he wasn’t even two years old. He turned a to be quite the talent and soon he was quicker than kids three times his age. At eight, he won his first national competition and in the years to come many would follow; during his career, Hedrick won a total of fifty world titles at different inline disciplines. His successes were partly due to his unique style, the double push, which was fundamentally different form the technique used by his opponents.

After seeing US speed skater Derek Parra win the Olympic 1.500 meters on television in a Las Vegas casino, Hedrick decided to test his luck on the ice. This wasn’t the obvious thing to do. He tried speed skating for a little while years before, but soon decided he didn’t like it at all. And when in 1988 he visited the Olympics in Calgary with a friend, he bought tickets to every single sport on the program except for speed skating.

But Hedrick longed for Olympic success, and on inline skates that wasn’t possible. Less than a year after the switch, the American finished fifth on the 5.000 meters at WC distances in Berlin, a clear sign that the old gods were soon to face fierce competition from a new one. Still, back then few people saw what Hedrick really had in store, and surely nobody expected him to win the all-round title a year later in a world record points (150.478). Just like he dominated inline skating, he was now ready to dominated speed skating for the years to come.

In the run upto the 2006 Olympics, Hedrick got even better. Therefore it wasn’t a surprise that in Torino he won the gold medal on the 5.000 meters, in, according to himself, the best race he’d ever skated. At the same tournament he also finished second at the 10.000 meters an third at the 1.500. The hunt for gold on the team pursuit however ended in deception. The Americans finished sixth after some controversy around Shani Davis, who didn’t want to be a part of the team. It was no secret that Hedrick and Davis weren’t the best of friends.

After the Games, Hedrick seemed to have difficulties keeping motivated, and he even considered retreating from speed skating. In 2008 he got married, and a year later his daughter Hadley Angel was born. In family happiness and (recovered) faith in God, he found new motivation to continue his career up until the Olympics of 2010. He qualified for four distances and eventually won two medals in Salt Lake City: bronze on the 1.000 meters and silver on the team pursuit (again, without Davis).

After the Olympics, Hedrick retired from speed skating. He currently works as a business development representative at Seminole Energy Services. On his LinkedIn profile, he advertises himself as a ‘former Olympic gold medalist who uses his leaderships qualities and past accomplishments to grow as business professional’.

Jeroen Savelkouls, January 28, 2014

Career summary

Podia at championships

20041 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersSeoulKOR
3 World Championship Single Distances 10,000 metersSeoulKOR
1 World Championship AllroundHamarNOR
20051 World Championship Single Distances 5000 metersInzellGER
3 World Championship Single Distances 10,000 metersInzellGER
2 World Championship AllroundMoscowRUS
20063 Olympic Winter Games 1500 metersTurinITA
1 Olympic Winter Games 5000 metersTurinITA
2 Olympic Winter Games 10,000 metersTurinITA
20103 Olympic Winter Games 1000 metersVancouverCAN
2 Olympic Winter Games Team pursuitVancouverCAN

World Records

1Team pursuit3:49.85Nov 8, 2003HamarNOR
2Big combination150.478Feb 7/8, 2004HamarNOR
3Team pursuit3:48.56Nov 13, 2004HamarNOR
43000 meters3:39.02Mar 10, 2005CalgaryCAN
55000 meters6:09.68Nov 13, 2005CalgaryCAN
61500 meters1:42.78Nov 18, 2005Salt Lake CityUSA
710,000 meters12:55.11Dec 31, 2005Salt Lake CityUSA
8Big combination148.799Jan 21/22, 2006CalgaryCAN

Personal Bests

500m0:35.52Dec 26, 2009Salt Lake CityUSA
1000m1:07.33Dec 13, 2009Salt Lake CityUSA
1500m1:42.14Dec 4, 2009CalgaryCAN
3000m3:39.02Mar 10, 2005CalgaryCAN
5000m6:09.68Nov 13, 2005CalgaryCAN
10,000m12:55.11Dec 31, 2005Salt Lake CityUSA

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