Tuitert wins gold in 1,500, Davis takes silver
Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick were supposed to battle it out for
gold. Mark Tuitert didn’t go along with the plan.
The Dutch skater pulled off an Olympic speedskating upset of the
Americans in the 1,500 meters Saturday, relegating Davis to the
silver while Hedrick failed to even make the podium Saturday.
Davis, the world-record holder trying to add to his gold medal
in the 1,000, came around the final turn with his mouth open and
both arms swinging, trying desperately to make up the gap on
Tuitert. He finished more than a half-second behind, still good
enough for his second medal of these games and fourth of his
“I don’t see it as me losing,” Davis said. “It is
Still miffed that he’s yet to win Olympic gold in his favorite
event, Davis said he’ll be back at the 2014 Games to take another
shot at the 1,500.
“I am sure it is going to keep me in the sport,” the
27-year-old skater said.
Not Hedrick. In his final individual race, the soon-to-retire
Texan hoped to follow up a surprising bronze in the 1,000 with an
even better showing in the 1,500, believing he had an advantage at
the longer distance.
Not even close.
Hedrick collapsed on the final lap, falling farther and farther
off the leading pace before crossing the line with only the
sixth-best showing. He was more than a full second behind Tuitert’s
winning time of 1 minute, 45.57 seconds.
Davis claimed the silver in 1:46.10, while Havard Bokko of
Norway took bronze in 1:46.13.
“It was a monster race for me,” said Tuitert, who came in
ranked only fifth on the World Cup circuit at this distance.
“Shani has been winning everything, Chad was so good and then I
produce this race.”
Hedrick was reliving cruel memories of the 1,500 four years ago
in Turin, where Italy’s Enrico Fabris ruined another Davis-Hedrick
showdown by winning gold, leaving the Americans to settle for
silver and bronze.
“It’s the second time in a row that Shani and I have gotten
this race stolen from us,” Hedrick said. “We go in as heavy
favorites each time, and it is some special skater every time that
Tuitert, who went in the third pair from the end, watched
nervously from the infield as Hedrick skated next and Davis capped
it off in the final group, both knowing the time they had to
Hedrick got off to a surprisingly strong start, but that may
have cost him his usual finishing kick. He knew he was done a few
feet from the line, coasting across in 1:46.69.
“It couldn’t happen to a better guy. He beat me pretty good,”
Hedrick said. “For him to go out there and fight like he did is
Davis, who set the world record of 1:41.04 in December in the
thin air of Salt Lake City, knew he wouldn’t be able to go nearly
that fast at the sea-level conditions of the Richmond Olympic Oval.
He was only 18-hundredths behind Tuitert with two laps to go, but
wasn’t quite as strong at the end.
“I just couldn’t man up and do it,” Davis said. “I wasn’t
strong enough for the victory.”
Tuitert held both hands to his head, as if he couldn’t believe
his time had stood up to Davis, then grabbed the Dutch flag for a
victory lap while his fellow countrymen in the band, Kleintje Pils,
belted out their national anthem, “Wilhelmus.”
“I’ve had so many disappointments, so many setbacks,” Tuitert
said. “It all came together in this race.”
Davis scratched his head, looking unsure about what happened.
Still, he matched his performance from the 2006 Turin Games,
winning gold in the 1,000 and silver in the 1,500 to become only
the fourth male skater in U.S. history to earn two Olympic golds in
South Korea’s Mo Tae-bum made a run at his third medal of the
games even though his coach didn’t think he had the stamina to hold
out on the final lap. After winning gold in the 500 and silver in
the 1,000, he led briefly before dropping back to fifth,
34-hundredths away from the podium.
Fabris didn’t come close to defending his gold medal. He was
10th, nearly 1 1/2 seconds off the winning time.
As for the other Americans, Trevor Marsicano was 15th and Brian
After collecting himself, Davis seemed satisfied with his
performance, smiling as he coasted around the track, waving to the
Hedrick could barely stand upright, gasping for breath and
swatting at his legs as if he couldn’t believe they let him
Davis might have contended for another medal in team pursuit,
but will sit out that event. So, his Olympics are over.
Hedrick will skate in the pursuit, giving him one last chance to
join Eric Heiden as the only American men to win five medals on the
Heiden’s, of course, were all gold.
After that, retirement beckons for the 33-year-old former inline
champion from Texas. He had plenty of success after he traded his
wheels for blades.
“I leave the ring today. I have no shame,” Hedrick said. “I
fell short today, but I left it all out there.”