Don't expect any world records at the Richmond Olympic Oval. "It's too close to the ocean, with too much air to push through," says Canada's
If you're a Yank, for no reason more than this: Since the event's introduction in 1924, speedskating has delivered more gold medals to the U.S. than all other winter sports combined. If you're Dutch, because the men's distances -- the 5,000 and 10,000 meters -- are likely to be predominantly orange. And if you're neither, because of the comic wild card of
Compared to their frostiness in Turin, Davis vs. Hedrick seems like a love-in now. Part of that is the result of Hedrick's getting married, embracing Christ and becoming a dad; part is a matter of Davis simply seizing the alpha mantle and wearing it gracefully. In the run-up to these Games, they've said all the right things about each other and held hands when they've shared podiums; Hedrick bit his tongue when Davis chose to give the team pursuit a miss, and briefly gave up his spot in the 10,000 when it looked like Davis intended to skate it. But the rivalry remains: Hedrick handed Davis his only middle-distance defeat all World Cup season, nipping him for the gold in a 1,500 by six-hundredths of a second in December.
Colbert Nation's sponsorship of the U.S. team may seem like an innovation in the realm of Olympic sponsorship, but it's not the first instance of pop culture marrying itself to American speedskating. For the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, power-ballad rock group REO Speedwagon bankrolled
Men's 5,000 meters (Feb. 13)