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Hedrick's Hat Trick
Speed-skating silver makes Hedrick most decorated U.S. athlete at 2006 Games.
By Ethan White
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Chad Hedrick
Chad Hedrick of the U.S. celebrates with the national flag after the men's speed skating 10000 metres race at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games at Oval Lingotto in Turin, Italy February 24, 2006.

  • Learn more about women's speed skating.

  • Read our interview with Gold medal winner Joey Cheek.

  • Check out what Chad Hedrick had to say to our student reporters.

  • Learn more about skating.

    (Photo: Grigory Dukor/Reuters)
  • Friday, February 24—Chad Hedrick pulled off a hat trick at the Winter Games in Torino, Italy, today when he won a silver medal in the men's 10,000m speed skate.

    Only two other American Olympians have ever accomplished this feat at the Winter Games. They were also speed skaters. The first was Sheila Young at the 1976 Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. The second was Eric Heiden at the 1980 Olympics at LaKe Placid, New York. A hat trick is when an athlete wins three medals, regardless of color. Hedrick was happy, although he had hoped to leave the games with five golds, tying his idol, Heiden.

    "I'm very happy with my accomplishments,'' he said. "At the same time, I feel like I left a lot of medals out there.''

    In an exciting race, Hedrick faced his rival Carl Verheijen from the Netherlands. Verheijen started to make a comeback, but Hedrick's sudden surge in the end won him the race and gave him the silver.

    Gold medalist Bob De Jong of the Netherlands watched from the stands as his winning time of 13:01.57, held up for the gold. He said he felt redeemed from his disappointing 15th place finish in Salt Lake City in 2002.

    Hedrick's medal made him the most decorated U.S. athlete in Torino. He also won gold in the 5,000m and bronze in the 1,500m.

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    Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States celebrates after winning his heat in
    Apolo Anton Ohno of the United States celebrates after winning his heat in the men's 500 meter race at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 22, 2006.
    (Photo: Eric Gay/AP Wide World)
    Keeping Track of Short Track
    Saturday, February 25, is the next big day for Olympic short track speed demons.
    By Aaron Broder
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Wednesday, February 22—Apolo Anton Ohno was a definite favorite to win his heat in the men's 500m, but he himself wasn't so sure about it.

    Indeed, from the beginning, many thought Ohno was not going to hprogress to the quarterfinals. In the 500m, you need a fast start because there isn't much time to make up for your mistakes. Ohno was third off the starting line.

    He overcame that disadvantage, however, as he quickly moved from third place to first, qualifying for the next round. As he crossed the finish line, his pleasure was evident.

    "It's been a long time since I enjoyed a 500m like that," he said, all smiles.

    Anthony Lobello, the other U.S. short track athlete in the race, was not so lucky. The ice "broke out," which means it cracked on a soft spot, causing him to trip. Lobello believes that his weight worked against him.

    "I'm probably one of the heaviest skaters out there," said the 175-pound athlete.

    Ahn Hyan-Soo of South Korea has been called Ohno's biggest threat for the gold in the 500m. In 2002, at Salt Lake City, he went home without a single medal. This year he is on a roll, having already won both men's short track gold medals. He won his first heat in the 500m after an explosive start.

    The quarterfinals for the men's 500m short track will take place Saturday, February 25.

    Women's 1000

    Both U.S. athletes for the Women's 1000m won their heats without any damage. Hyo-Jung Kim, a 17-year-old, first-time Olympian, won first in her heat, with Erika Huszar of Hungary right behind her. Kimberly Derrick, also a first-time Olympian, was behind Amanda Overland from Canada. In second place, she also progressed to the quarterfinals.

    The quarterfinals for the women's 1000m short track will take place Saturday, February 25.

    Relay Racers

    One of the most chaotic parts of the short track event is clearly the 3000m relay, and the women's event this year was no exception.

    To an outside viewer, this event may seem like a mass of people moving in tandem around the track, but to the skaters, it's quite clear. As the competitors circle the ice, each skater tries to pick up enough momentum to match the speed of the person ahead of her. Unlike most relay events, where a baton is passed, in this relay one skater pushes the next from behind to give her a head start.

    South Korea was a favorite to win, and those predictions came true, but not without a challenge. The South Korean team is known for endurance and was expected to stay in front the whole race, but for a few seconds halfway through, the Chinese team managed to get in front. South Korea soon recovered and passed China to win its fourth short track gold medal.

    South Korea needn't have worried, though, as China was disqualified for interfering with another competitor in the final exchange. The disqualification allowed Canada to move up from bronze to silver, and gave a very happy Italian team the bronze medal.

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    Italy Wins First Speed Skating Gold
    Italian men and German women first in team pursuit speed skating
    By Joe Wlos
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Wednesday, February 16—In a sport where you are only as good as your weakest link, Italy and Germany proved that their speed skating teams are the fastest in the world. The event is called team pursuit speed skating and it is making its Olympic debut at the Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

    In this event, two teams of three speed skaters race around an oval ice rink starting from points on the rink. Each team's time is determined by the time of the last teammate to cross the finish line. Success depends on speed and on avoiding mistakes. It is a dangerous sport in which a single misstep can send a skater flying into the wall at around 50 miles per hour.

    In the men's competition, the Americans were eliminated early by the Italian team. Many believe that the American team would have done better if Chicagoan Shani Davis had participated. He decided to concentrate on his next individual event and bypassed the team event.

    After the Italians beat the Americans, they had to best the team from the Netherlands. This team was considered a favorite to win, but the Italians proved this notion wrong. It was a tight semifinal race until a skater from the Netherlands stepped on an out-of-bounds marker that sent him and his teammates crashing into the wall. The Italians then easily moved ahead to the finals.

    In the finals, Italy faced the Canadian team, another favorite to win the competition. The Italians skated flawlessly to the finish line as the Italian fans stood up to cheer their heroes.

    Canada won the silver medal and the Netherlands took bronze.

    Women's team pursuit

    In the women's competition, the American team was eliminated early on by the Canadians, a favorite in the women's field.

    Canada and Germany faced off in the final race of the women's competition. It was an easier win for Germany because one of the Canadian speed skaters decided not to race. Much like Davis's decision, she wanted to concentrate on other individual events.

    While the Germans got the gold, Canada came in second for silver. The Russian team won the bronze.

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    Home Team Moves Ahead
    Italy skates past U.S. to qualify for finals in men's speed skating team pursuit.
    By Brianna White
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Wednesday, February 15—Italy's home team defeated the U.S. in the quarterfinals of men's speed skating team pursuit at the Winter Games today. The Italian team then defeated the Netherlands to qualify for the finals and a chance at gold. The Italians will go up against top-ranked Canada tomorrow.

    Speed Skating Team Pursuit is the first new Olympic speed skating event since 1988. In Team Pursuit, two nations with three skaters each, race against each other. The men race eight laps and the women race six laps. All skaters start at the same time with teams on opposite sides of the track. Each team is timed from the start until its third skater crosses the finish line or until one team overtakes the other.

    Although the U.S. skaters made it through the preliminary round, they did not do as well in the quarterfinals. Racing for the U.S. at the Oval Lingotto were gold medalist Chad Hedrick, K.C. Boutiette, and Charles Ryan Leveille.

    This loss destroyed Hedrick's hopes of winning five medals in the Winter Olympics, a record held by fellow American Eric Heiden.

    The women's team of Jennifer Rodriguez, Maria Lamb, and Catherine Raney didn't fare any better. They also lost in the quarterfinals to the team from Canada. Women's finals are also schedule for tomorrow.

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    Joey Cheek makes a victory lap during the Winter Olympics
    Joey Cheek does a victory lap after the Winter Olympics men's 500 meter speed skating sprint race in Torino, Italy on February 13, 2006.

    (Photo: Jasper Juinen/AP Wide World)
    U.S. Speed Skating Gold
    Joey Cheek wins a second gold medal for the American team.
    By Erin Sullentrup
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Monday, February 13—It was an exciting night in Torino, Italy, for the men's 500 m speed skating final. American Joey Cheek won the gold after easily skating to victory at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games.

    "I was focused, relaxed and I enjoyed it,'' he said.

    Cheek's time in the second race was 34.94 seconds, with a combined time of 69.76.

    Winning the silver medal was Dmitry Dorofeyev of Russia with a combined time of 70.41.

    Lee Kang-Seok of South Korea took the bronze medal, with a time of 70.43.

    This is the second time Cheek has won an Olympic medal in speed skating. He won a bronze medal in the Men's 1000 m speed skating in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2002. It is also the second straight 500 m victory for an American. Casey FitzRandolph won the gold medal in the men's 500 m in the 2002 Games. This year, FitzRandolph nearly fell in his attempt to win the 500 m. He was ecstatic about Cheek's victory.

    "He not only won, he blew everybody away,'' FitzRandolph said.

    This was an exciting and unexpected win for Joey Cheek and the United States. World-record holder, Joji Kato of Japan, finished sixth. Americans Tucker Fredericks and Kip Carpenter, finished 25th and 26th.

    Cheek, a 26-year-old from Greensboro, North Carolina, is preparing to participate in the men's 1,000 m speed skating event. That competition will be held on Saturday, February 18.

    In speed skating, a pair of skaters race each other around the track with two goals in mind: to win the race at hand, and to bring in the best time of all the other racers in the competition. The winner of the 500 m competition is based on their combined time from two races. This year was the first time both races were held on the same day.

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    Ireen Wust of the Netherlands
    Ireen Wust of the Netherlands rounds the track to win the Olympic gold medal in the ladies' 3000-meter speedskating competition at the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 12, 2006.
    (Photo: Paul Chiasson/CP/AP Wide World)
    Teen Speed Skater Takes Gold
    Ireen Wust of the Netherlands performs her personal best in the 3,000 m
    By Kira Pilger
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Sunday, February 12—A 19-year-old skater from the Netherlands won the gold medal today in women's 3,000 m speed skating at the 2006 Winter Games.

    Ireen Wust crossed the finish line in 4:02.43. It was a personal best for Wust who was happy but did not seem impressed.

    "It is crazy that it was good enough for gold," she said.

    The silver medal went to Renate Groenewold, also of the Netherlands, whose time was 4:03.48.

    Cindy Klassen of Canada took home the bronze medal with a time of 4:04.37. Klassen is a former world record holder.

    The event has long been dominated by the orange-clad Dutch. The stands were almost solid orange with supporters, including Crown Prince Willem Alexander, heir to the Dutch throne.

    "They give you so much energy," Wust said of her screaming fans. "You hear them and you want to go faster and faster."

    Other women's speed skating events are the 500 m, which will be held Tuesday, February 14; the 1,000 m, set for Sunday, February 19; the 1,500 m on Wednesday, February 22; and the 5,000 m on Saturday, February 25.

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    Chad Hedrick of the United States competes in the men's 5000 meter speed skating event during the 2006 Winter Olympics
    Chad Hedrick of the United States competes in the men's 5000 meter speed skating event during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy on February 11, 2006. Hedrick won the gold medal.

    Check out what Chad Hedrick had to say to our student reporters.
    (Photo: Matt Dunham/AP Wide World)
    Big Texas Win
    Chad Hedrick wins gold in the 5000 m men's speed skating event on the first day of competition.

    Saturday, February 11—Texan Chad Hedrick won Texas-size gold in the speed skating men's 5000 m. It was his first Olympic race and a big win for the former in-line skating X Games champ.

    It was a first step in the route to a possible five gold medals in one Winter Games. The person with that record is Eric Heiden, who won five golds in 1980.

    "I didn't come here to win one gold medal," Hedrick said. "You're going to see my face a lot more."

    It was an emotional day for Hedrick. He broke into tears several times before the race, thinking about his grandmother who died on the same day 13 years earlier. He settled down after visiting with his family and got ready for the race.

    He clocked a winning time of 6:14.68 seconds—nearly six seconds off the world record. Sven Kramer of the Netherlands came in second for the silver medal, while Italian Enrico Fabris won the bronze.

    Hedrick will compete again on Wednesday, when he will anchor a three-man team in two days of head-to-head competition.

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    Apolo Anton Ohno skates during his heat in the men's 1500 meters in short track speed skating.
    Apolo Anton Ohno skates during his heat in the men's 1500 meters in short track speed skating during the Winter Olympic Games on February 12, 2006.
    (Photo: Mark Baker/AP Wide World)
    Oh, No, Apolo!
    Apolo Ohno stumbles and blows chance for a second gold in short track 1500m
    By Kira Pilger
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Sunday, February 12—Apolo Anton Ohno was a short track speed skating hero in the U.S. after his surprising gold medal performance at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, Utah. But the two Korean speed skaters who lost to Ohno back then, got their revenge today, as the 2006 Games got under way in Torino, Italy.

    With only one and a half laps to go, Ohno stumbled in the 1500m semifinal heat.

    "You never know with this sport," Ohno said. "It just wasn't my day." Ohno will be competing in three more events during these Olympic Games.

    Korean Ahn Hyun-Soo won the gold medal in the final race of the night. Korean Lee Ho-Suk took the silver. A controversial call in 2002 gave Ohno the gold over his Korean competitors, leaving them outraged. The tables were turned this year.

    Coming in third for the bronze was China's Li Jiajun.

    Short track is a division of speed skating in which participants race each other on an oval-shaped track.

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    Allison Baver (pictured center), of the U.S., skates in her 500 meter heat during short track speed skating on February 12, 2006.
    Allison Baver (pictured center) skates in her 500 meter heat during short track speed skating on February 12, 2006. At left is Erica Hunszar, of Hungary, and at rear is Jong Suk Yun, of Korea.
    (Photo: Amy Sancetta/AP Wide World)
    U.S. Women Qualify in Short Track
    Baver, Kim post top times in Women's 500m preliminaries
    By Kira Pilger
    Scholastic Kids Press Corps

    Sunday, February 12—Both U.S. women's short track speed skaters qualified in the preliminaries today for Wednesday's finals.

    Allison Baver completed the 500m race in 45.998 seconds. She was first in Heat 6. Kyo-Jun Kim, the other American, clocked in at 46.007, for the second fastest time in Heat 4.

    The best time of the day came from China's Meng Wang, who took 45.011 seconds to lap the track four and a half times.

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