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Gold on Italian Ice
Gold Medalist Chad Hedrick Talks to Scholastic Kid Reporters
By Mackenzie Korbus and Anne Leitheiser, Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Chad Hedrick
Gold Medal winner Chad Hedrick with Scholastic Kid Reporters Mackenzie Korbus (left) and Anne Leitheiser.
(Photo: Photo by Suzanne Freeman)
Chad Hedrick took home one of the first U.S. gold medals at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy.

Once a world champion in-line skater from Houston, Texas, Hedrick gave up wheels for blades and a chance at Olympic gold.

Before taking off for the Italian Alps to compete in his first Winter Games, he spoke to two reporters from the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

Q: You used to be an in-line skater. What made you switch over?
Chad Hedrick: I switched to ice speed skating, when I saw my friend Derek Parra win the Olympics in 2002. I was actually on vacation and I saw him on TV. I have been a friend of his for quite a while, and that moment made me decide that this was my destiny. I moved to Salt Lake City to begin my training in long track ice speed skating.

Q: Was that a hard transition?
Chad: The transition coming from in-line skating to ice skating was rather difficult, but I had people who made the transition before me who helped me out a lot and showed me some habits that I had that would help get me to this level quicker, so it was good.

Q: What makes you an Olympic athlete?
Chad: The thing that makes me an Olympic athlete is my desire to win. I feel like mentally I'm a lot stronger than everybody I compete against. It might not always be my talent level, but I am always very hungry to win, and I prove that as soon as I step out onto the ice.

Q: When did you know you would be an Olympian?
Chad: Coming from in-line skating, I didn't think I would be in the Olympics ever, but when I started in 2003 I knew once I jumped on the ice after a couple of weeks that it was in reach for me to be an Olympian. And then after a year, becoming world champion, I knew that this was my destiny and that I could be really successful doing it.

Q: What are your plans for after you're done competing?
Chad: I have some endorsement opportunities that are going to keep me in speed skating for another five years, so I'll probably be skating through the Vancouver Olympics [2010]. But I don't look far ahead, because I think if you look too far ahead, then you're not focused on what you're doing in the present time.

Q: When did you start skating?
Chad: I grew up roller-skating. My family owns rinks all across Texas, so I started skating at the age of two and pretty much learned how to walk on a pair of skates. My dad tightened up the wheels as tight as he could get them, put skates on me, and that's how I learned to walk.

Q: So did your dad play a big part in your skating?
Chad: Being a rink owner himself, and influencing me instead of hiring a babysitter, they just kept me in the rink for six to eight hours a day. I was always in the rink practicing and doing different things, and before I knew it I realized I had a talent and could take it to the next level. I turned professional at the age of 15 and he's been a big mentor and my coach ever since then, and really instilled the desire to be the best at what I do.


Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.