This week's column:
What Was It About Chad?
June 22, 2011 (originally published: July 7, 2007)
Hi, Bill: Do you think any of today's skaters could compete with Chad Hedrick in his prime? I have seen his videos and he seemed to be heads and shoulders above the competition. What was it about that guy? - Dennis.
Hi, Dennis: In his prime, Chad was something else again. I remember him at the Pan American Games in Argentina in 1995. In the points race, he made the reigning world champion, Martin Escobar of Argentina, look like a novice on his home track.
One of Chad's front wheels collapsed during the race. But rather than quit, Chad simply ripped the wheel out of his frame and continued skating. He kept racking up points and won the gold.
A couple years later, at the Pacific Games in Cali, Colombia, he dominated at altitude, beating champions like Sergio Uribe, who had trained in the thin air.
Another year, at the World Championships, he went out to celebrate after winning the 1000 meters. He drank way too much and made a fool out of himself.
I scampered off to bed at 4 a.m. before the police arrived and arrested him. Nonetheless, he came back the next day and won the 20,000-meter elimination.
He was a once-in-a-decade freak and showed everyone what the double push was all about. He could produce top end speed for 600 meters while his opponents could only last 400 to 450 meters.
One key to his power was the way he used his hip to push his recovery leg forward before the setdown. This allowed his other muscles to rest for an extra 0.18 seconds.
One current skater who may be in the same category is Joey Mantia. Joey is more disciplined than Chad was as an inline skater. But only time will tell if he can reach the same heights as Chad.
One thing for sure, Chad against Joey would be a great match up.