FanDuel - WFBC

February 18, 2006

Davis blazes trail with gold: Congrats, but what is this guys problem?

posted by chuck'n'duck to other at 10:41 PM - 45 comments

His problem? He's got a chip on his shoulder, is all. I'm sure there will be a flood of people dissing him for his lack of team play, but he chose an individual sport pursuit, not a team one. The concept of a "national team" is an artificial one, so if he wants to strike out on his own for any reason, no matter how made-up it might be, he has that right. He's not bringing a team down with him, like some other athletes I suspect he'll be compared to with this attitude. It's sad that he & Chad Hedrick don't get along, but I don't have to get along with my coworkers neither, and you can't say Shani Davis didn't do his job well. He delivered. He doesn't have to play nice with everyone to justify his existence. Maybe he doesn't want the Wheaties box or the Shoe Deal; that's his perogative. All he had to do was skate fast. Which he did. So, give it up for him.

posted by chicobangs at 11:12 PM on February 18

sounds to me the guy does what he feel's is right for him. beside the team relay, speed skating is an individual sport and it doesn't really matter what other people think of you. the guy probably took alot of ribbing growing up in the sport and that has probably made him a little standoffish and given him an edge or a motivation to become an olympic champion. not everyone needs to like you to excel in athletics, especially an individual sport

posted by erkno11 at 11:15 PM on February 18

I agree wholeheartedly with chicobangs. And why should we blame Davis because he doesn't get along with Hedricks? Davis gets along just fine with lots of other people ... Hedricks is a party animal from Texas who comes to practice drunk, guarantees victory in the press, and refers to himself in the third person. I'm not sure I'd like him much, either.

posted by Amateur at 11:16 PM on February 18

i agree with chico, didn't see his post until i posted mine

posted by erkno11 at 11:17 PM on February 18

And Hedricks had no chance of winning the thousand anyway, so you can't blame Davis for ruining Chad's shot at five golds (a pretty god-damned selfish goal too, I might add). Hedricks will win gold in the 10K -- I think the 1500 will be a very interesting battle.

posted by Amateur at 11:18 PM on February 18

My point of the post was to congratulate him. He did a great job in winning the event. I could care less if he gets along with Hedrick or not. It is an individual sport and he doesn't have to participate in a team event. I posted shortly after seeing his post race interview. It seemed as though he had just heard some bad news as opposed to winning a gold medal. He could have, and in my opinion, should have just declined the interview. This is an opportunity for him to get everything he ever wanted and more. With his upbringing he could use this to build something. It seemed to me he missed an opportunity. That being said, he doesn't have to be a standard bearer. Not everyone is cut out for that role. In the end it is his decision. Congratulations on the win and the medal.

posted by chuck'n'duck at 01:17 AM on February 19

And Hedricks had no chance of winning the thousand anyway, so you can't blame Davis for ruining Chad's shot at five golds (a pretty god-damned selfish goal too, I might add). That and the fact that he was already out of contention for that with their team pursuit loss. Granted, having Davis on their team would have helped them but... well, they don't even train together so I don't know if it would have? Davis trains in Calgary mostly with Canadian athletes.

posted by mkn at 02:04 AM on February 19

Congrats Shani Davis

posted by skydivedad at 07:21 AM on February 19

I've having trouble finding a single thing to fault Davis for in that article.

posted by rcade at 09:12 AM on February 19

I've having trouble finding a single thing to fault Davis for in that article. posted by rcade at 9:12 AM CST on February 19
Maybe O.Guillen will find something! (jk :p)

posted by zippinglou at 09:46 AM on February 19

Amateur hits the nail on the head that the underreported aspect of this story is that ultimately Hedricks' quest for five goals is a pretty individual-oriented goal in of itself. It appears to me (from what I've read and seen) is that Davis is one of those guys who uses the feeling that he has been slighted or that the world is against him as motivation (even if that's not true or not still true). If that's what it takes for him to win races, more power to him. I'm just looking forward to the 1500.

posted by holden at 10:31 AM on February 19

I don't understand why this thread has become a let's trash Hedrick thread. Eric Heiden wasn't considered "selfish" when he became eligible for his 5 Golds. I totally disagree with Ameteur's characterization of Hedrick's attempt for 5 Golds as a selfish act. He qualified for those events just like everybody else. Anybody who has watched US Speedskating for awhile knows that Chad is extremely supportive to the other US Skaters. Just because he doesn't get along with Shani Davis is no reason to trash him. They are both extremely talented World Class Athletes and both deserve respect for their accomplishments. This characterization of Hedrick's attempt at 5 Gold's as selfish couldn't be farther from the truth. Let's give respect to both of these Athletes. I for one am quite proud of both.

posted by skydivedad at 11:21 AM on February 19

Go Shani!

posted by slackerman at 11:27 AM on February 19

It's one thing to be an individualist. It's quite another to be disrespectful of others on your team, and regardless of if he participated in a team sport or individual sport, he (Shani) did not bring himself there, his country did. Hedrick did not diss Shani by trying to win so he could get 5 Gold medals, he wanted to better Eric Heiden. It's one thing to be a respectful participant. It's quite another to rub other's faces in the fact that you out-do them in your own admitted best event. I have met both of these skaters, at different times. For what it's worth, Hedrick is a for-the-team type of guy. Shani is a me-first player, just like the rest of his city brethren.

posted by mrhockey at 12:19 PM on February 19

mrhockey, you had a fairly cogent argument up until your last eight words. You might want to explain what you mean by "city brethren."

posted by chicobangs at 12:26 PM on February 19

I have met both of these skaters...Hedrick is a for-the-team type of guy...Shani is a me-first player, just like the rest of his city brethren. So, from just meeting these men, you know their personalities this well? Your powers of perception are exremely well-honed. Or you're full of crap and don't know what you're talking about. And how is it that Davis did not bring himself to the Games, his country did, but that same standard doesn't apply to Hedrick? Also, what's your problem with the people of the City of Chicago? Or is it just the black people of the City of Chicago that piss you off?

posted by The_Black_Hand at 12:33 PM on February 19

Congrats to Davis on his big win, but it's hard to root for the guy when he looks and acts pissed off after winning Olympic gold. When Hendrick learns how to skate the first two hundred better I suspect he will be the guy to beat in every event he enters. As far as Shani not racing in the team pursuit, whatever. Both guys have valid points, the team would have had a much better chance to medal with Davis and you can understand Hendrick's frustration that Shani didn't care to skate in that event. However Shani's best event was the next day and he did show up and deliver. The guy skated an amazing race and that can't be taken from him. He probably should have just skipped the interview instead of looking like a jackass, but if he doesn't care about the endorsement money that's his deal.

posted by bigrobbieb at 12:34 PM on February 19

Hedrick vs. Shani is a circular thing, and IMO probably less of a story than is being made of it...but that's me... What I'm surprised about, as Chuck mentioned, is why on earth Shani seemed so pissed off in the post-race interview after he had just won his gold. You got gold! Be happy! Ah well.

posted by diastematic at 12:36 PM on February 19

Maybe he doesn't care if you're pulling for him or not. That's not everyone's goal in life. His me-against-the-world attitude got him to the pinnacle of his sport. It may not do his Q Rating any favors, but again, he's there for a different reason than the glamour chasers. To use pro wrestling terms: some guys are natural babyfaces. Shani Davis has some heel in him. Heels have fans too. Heels win. That awful Kobe "hate me, love me" commercial? It sounds like it might fit Davis better.

posted by chicobangs at 01:02 PM on February 19

Shani's best event was the next day posted by bigrobbieb Just for the record the 1000 meter was three days after the Team Pursuit event. Other competitors sharing Davis' dilemma included Erben Wennemars of the Netherlands. A top threat in the 1000m, he raced Wednesday night and again Thursday. Among key women, Germany's Anni Friesinger helped Germany win pursuit gold Thursday, three days before the women's 1000m, in which she's the favorite. One of her top rivals, however, Canada's Cindy Klassen , raced the pursuit semifinals Thursday but opted out of the final. Ultimately the decision to participate in the Team Pursuit event is an individual decision and Shani choose to concentrate on the 1000 and 1500 meter events. His victory in the 1000m speaks for itself.

posted by skydivedad at 01:04 PM on February 19

Hedricks is a party animal from Texas who comes to practice drunk, guarantees victory in the press, and refers to himself in the third person. I'm not sure I'd like him much, either. posted by Amateur at 11:16 PM CST on February 18 Amateur, could you back these statements up with links. I have not heard any of this and thought I was following the sport pretty closely. On topic, congrats to Shani - he came to win the gold in 1000 and 1500. He has won the 1000 and has a good chance in the 1500, so good luck. I don't think he has ever implied that he was in it for the team (obvious because he doesn't even practice with them) so this should come as no surprise. I agree that I think the network execs are making more of a story of this than it really is. After all they are trying to sell ratings. What better than to give the audience a little drama to tune into.

posted by skydivemom at 01:46 PM on February 19

What's the deal with all of the talk about selfishness? I can't imagine there are a lot of unselfish gold medalists at the Olympics, aside perhaps from the female snowboarder who generously let the second-place competitor win her event last week. And as it turned out, she's an unselfish silver medalist.

posted by rcade at 02:39 PM on February 19

Yes, it's an individual sport; yes, the team events are a artificial thing. But... tough. It's the Olympics. You're 'in it for the team' by being selected for the team. The sprinters and 400m runners who compete in relays aren't team competitors, but Carl Lewis or Michael Johnson showed up. That doesn't mean Davis was obliged to show up, but he's obliged to take the lumps for not doing so.

posted by etagloh at 03:08 PM on February 19

I don't care what his agenda is or his priorities are -- his terse and assholic "interview" a few minutes after the 1,000-meter race summed Davis up. He blew off NBC's reporter and made her look like an idiot, then laughed about it as he walked out of the shot. I hope he just blew every endorsement opportunity he had, and I hope he comes home to absolutely no welcome whatsoever. A guy like that ... fuck him.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:28 PM on February 19

From what I have read, Shani has never in his life raced in a team pursuit race. New event or not, I can't imagine anyone criticizing him for deciding not to do something he'd never tried before.

posted by mikelbyl at 03:30 PM on February 19

Amateur, could you back these statements up with links. I have not heard any of this and thought I was following the sport pretty closely. posted by skydivemom at 1:46 PM CST on February 19 Guess I needed to do a little research - sorry Amateur. Here is the thread from Dec. where we talked about that. Blame it on my short term memory loss. What were we talking about?

posted by skydivemom at 04:19 PM on February 19

Hey if Bode can compete drunk, why can't Hedrick practice drunk? Shani deserves the gold, but he was a total ass in the interview after he won.

posted by lil'red at 05:15 PM on February 19

Geez, maybe the guy's just not much of a talker.

posted by dirigibleman at 06:29 PM on February 19

Is Davis a member of United Speed skating delegation or not? Who bought his transport to the game? does the gold medal belong to Davis or the US? Had Davis skated in the relay would the US have won gold? I know there is no I in team, but Mike Jorden said it best. There's an I in win. A little humility goes along way in sports. The smug attitude puts a very large target on his back. Yes, he didn't need an extra gold medal.

posted by kosmicdebris at 06:42 PM on February 19

Sorry skydivedad ... here is my point. This is not about I-hate-Chad-Hedricks. But Shani Davis is taking shit in the press, partly because his refusal to participate in the team pursuit cost Chad Hedricks a chance at five gold medals. I just wanted to point out that there is no evidence that Chad Hedricks is any more selfless or a team player than Shani Davis. Of course athletes in individual sports are selfish! That's part of how they get to the top.

posted by Amateur at 06:46 PM on February 19

Hi skydivemom, I guess you found the link about Hedricks' partying. Here is a news article where he speaks of himself in the third person, and also predicts victory in the remaining three events. Again, I am not saying that this makes him an evildoer or anything; but he obviously has a strong personality and it's not surprising if it rubs some people the wrong way.

posted by Amateur at 06:49 PM on February 19

Is there any article prior to the Olympics that had Hedrick saying he was going after 5 golds? I saw him interviewed after winning his first (and only so far) gold and he was making any promises then.

posted by lil'red at 06:53 PM on February 19

When Hendrick learns how to skate the first two hundred better I suspect he will be the guy to beat in every event he enters. I don't think it is going to be that simple. Think about this in track-and-field terms. If you look at the times, the 1,000 is roughly comparable to about a 600 m race (if such a thing existed). The 10,000 is about like a 6k. Do you think that there is a human being alive who could be world champion over those two distances at the same time? I don't think it can be done. You just cannot train those two physiological systems to the level required to be the best in the world at both. The fact that Hedricks can kill everybody in the 10K and then get into the top 6 in the 1,000 is astounding, but I don't think that last step is just a matter of working harder. Again, I think the 1,500 will be intriguing.

posted by Amateur at 06:54 PM on February 19

Geez, maybe the guy's just not much of a talker. He seemed to have plenty of time to talk when NBC did a big sob-story blowjob on him and his mom that ran right before the race. Plus, being succinct is all well and good -- it was the way he chose to be a dick that was offputting. If he didn't want to talk, he didn't have to get on camera at all. Plus the laughing right after he was so upset and serious ... again, fuck that guy.

posted by wfrazerjr at 07:39 PM on February 19

The media are definitely fueling the fire a little bit here. Especially NBC to try to draw as many to watch the remainder of the Games.

posted by chuck'n'duck at 09:15 PM on February 19

I don't think it can be done. You just cannot train those two physiological systems to the level required to be the best in the world at both. But speed skating is closest to time-trial cycling in terms of its physiological demands and structure, and it's possible to win both a 7km prologue time trial and a 50km full one.

posted by etagloh at 10:10 PM on February 19

frazer, maybe he's just said his piece already, and didn't feel like repeating himself. Also, in that light, reread my first comment, especially the bit about the Wheaties Box.

posted by chicobangs at 11:41 PM on February 19

For what it's worth, he gave a much more thoughtful and gracious interview after the medal ceremony. He might have just been in another zone earlier. He's not done competing, after all.

posted by chicobangs at 01:25 AM on February 20

But speed skating is closest to time-trial cycling in terms of its physiological demands and structure, and it's possible to win both a 7km prologue time trial and a 50km full one. It's not just the range that's important; I think the 1,000 and the 10,000 are on opposite sides of the aerobic/anaerobic divide. The 1000 in speed skating takes about 70 seconds. So on a time trial bike that's about ... 1.5 km? Something like that. And in races that short in cycling, you're talking about a different kind of animal. Right?

posted by Amateur at 05:32 AM on February 20

Chicobangs, he was gracious in his interview after the medal ceremony. Maybe he realized how bad he came off in his interview after winning. If he wins in the 1500, it will be interesting to see how his interview will go then.

posted by lil'red at 07:48 AM on February 20

i don't really follow "closely" this part of the olympics, so from reading the posts is it safe to say that shani is the T.O of speed skating? (sorry just had to throw owens into it)

posted by chuy at 07:33 PM on February 20

And in races that short in cycling, you're talking about a different kind of animal. Right? Certainly, a road-race sprinter is a different beast to a time trialler, and that's anaerobic, fast-twitch stuff. But it's hard to compare on the track, since sprint cycling is only at top speed for the last couple of laps. The closest comparison would be the 3000m pursuit, where you have to be up to speed within half a lap and sustain it for the distance, and it's definitely possible to be a champion pursuiter and time-trialler, though rarer than it once was.

posted by etagloh at 08:33 PM on February 20

Speaking of selfish behavior, Melissa Stark's post-gold medal interview with Shani Davis was one of the most uncomfortable "celebrations" that I have ever watched. I mean, I've seen bad losers before. But bad winners...?! The guy was completely ungracious, didn't thank anybody, didn't crack a smile, looked for all the world like an angry and bitter man. He said he was just at a loss for words, perhaps that is true, but I've seen plenty of overjoyed athletes at loss for words when they've won before, and none snarled the way Davis did. He looked worse than the Italian figure skater staring daggers at the pairs partner that dropped her. (Curiously, the following night NBC used a black reporter to interview Davis at the podium ceremony, and Davis didn't seem nearly as hostile.)

posted by the red terror at 04:21 PM on February 21

The Olympics are tricky. You are an individual but you supposedly represent your country. Shani Davis's mom has been seen thoroughly enjoying hanging out with the Dutch and wearing their colors and waving their flag. Maybe a move would be in order so he can represent a country that his mom is willing to embrace. I prefer to see the athletes do their best and not worry about medals. The medals are great and maybe amateur athletes appreciate just competing more than some of the ones we have now.

posted by southdakotasports at 08:43 PM on February 21

Warning: complete speculation follows! What nobody is saying, and I thought about not saying in the first place is, this is a Black man in a primarily White sport. Perhaps he's got some reasons to be a little pissed off. It wouldn't be the first time someone's used mistreatment (for any number of reasons, not just racial) to motivate themselves to excellence. None of us know these two men personally, so for all the spouting off about which guy is a good guy and which is a bad guy, there's a whole lot of hot air and bullshit, which combine for a powerful stink.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 01:14 PM on February 22

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