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From Lake Placid to the Olympics Part Two

February 18, 2010 - Christie Sausa
Last evening Shani Davis thrilled the crowd in the Richmond Olympic Oval by defending his title in the 1000 M race by winning the gold. He is considered one of the US Speed Skating Team's greatest hope for Olympic medals.

SHANI DAVIS (USA)- Long Track Speed Skater

Shani Davis is one of the most decorated long-track speed skaters in history, and I was surprised to find out that the Chicago native did spend time training in Lake Placid when he was 16. My coach Mike Miller remembers him training on the outdoor Speed Skating Oval and indoors in the Olympic Center. Like Ohno, Davis also attended school at the Lake Placid High School (which is convieniently located behind the oval).

Shani is one of the rare skaters that is excellent at every distance, and many speculated that he might have a chance to win five gold medals at the Olympics like Eric Heiden. A short track and long track skater, he became the first US skater to earn spots on both the long and short track Junior World Team in 2000, 2001, and 2002. He also became the first African American speed skater to earn a spot on the 2002 Olympic team.

Davis has had his share of controversy in speed skating; in 2006, he was ridiculed by some after denying the invitation to skate Team Pursuit with the rest of the US Team; Chad Hedrick in particular was very vocal about his choice, claiming that he wasn't interested in helping the team to win a medal in Team Pursuit; Shani responded by explaining that he wanted to focus on his own races.distances. Hedrick and Davis seemed to reconcile this year, although Davis is still not skating Team Pursuit.

He did, however, clash with another person this year- Stephen Colbert. The Comedy Central host of the "Colbert Report" sponsored US Speed Skating after their former sponsor went bankrupt (read my former post about the sponsorship for more information). Part of his monologue was mocking Canadians, specifically for refusing to allow US skaters to train on their ice before the Games. Davis, who trained in Calgary for many years, took offense to the jokes, saying "(Colbert) is a jerk, and you can put that in the paper". Colbert then challenged Shani to a race at any location and any distance- "as long as I get a 1,000 meter head start". Shani accepted the "challenge", and appeared in a taped segment for the "Colbert Report", seeming to make up with Colbert. Obviously, Davis won the race.

Shani is competing in the Vancouver Olympics, and has already competed in the 2006 Winter Games, where he won a gold in the 1000 M and silver in the 1500 M. After his gold medal performance in the 1000 M, Shani will also be racing in the 1500 M race.


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