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