Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heather Juska joins Atom All-Stars!

Please give a great BIG Atom Wheels hello to the newest Atom All-Star... Heather Juska!! Welcome to the team Heather :) read bio>

LIVED & Living the dream - Speedskating's most dominanat skater EVER, faced with his biggest challenge yet! LIFE with Chad P. Hedrick!

Ask any hard core speedskating fan about a time frame or era in our sport & ONE who displayed pure domination, they’d be hard pressed not to mention the man who ruled this very sport for nearly the past two decades – Chad Hedrick! A household name in speedskating which put him at the top of an elite group of skaters of our time! Sure there have been much bigger names in "speedskating" due to the ice being a very well known worldwide & longtime Olympic sport for well over a 100 years (1892 to be exact) & by no means am I alluding the lack of or downplaying the successes of some greats such as Eric Heiden (5 time Olympic Gold medalist -Long Track) but really what skater dominated on wheels ten fold or that much & would need a much bigger challenge that they switched to ice & in a short amount of time stood yet again on top of those Olympic podiums as well? I’m also not delusional as to Parra, Cheek, Rodriguez & many mores’ inline to ice successes from the past which I applaud & am amazed by their personal accomplishments but there’s no denying that Chad Hedrick did it in a way that kept us all in awe for 20 years & even still after he has well retired. He made the switch from inline to ice in 2004 & after only one year of ice training he became a world champion in long track ice, shocking everyone but himself. He then went on to set 6 new world records & became the first man in history to skate 10,000 meters (6.2 miles) under 13 minutes on the ice!

52 Time World Champion Chad Hedrick 1997

(Hedrick in 2010 Winter Olympics)
(Hedrick first man in history to break the 13 min barrier in 6.2 miles - 12/31/2005)

A fan or not of Chad, if you watched him race you’d be untruthful to say he didn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck or arms stand up at least once over the 20 year span of his career. The difference laid there which was between him & whomever else you want to compare him to as the most dominant in our sport, to date! Numerous stories of just unrealistic athleticism & race smarts that are mind blowing even if compared to today’s caliber of top-notch professional inline racing. Like the time at the Pan American Games in 95' in Argentina when it started to drizzle at the end of the points elim race and his front wheel started to lock up making it very difficult to push through. He signals for a wrench from the team coach, has to skate another lap to finally receive the wrench, pulls out of the pack, takes the wheel completely out (not replace but completely out) throws it to the side, catches back up & gets back in position & starts to rack up even more points while preparing for the final sprint to WIN with sparks flying off the road from his frame like a broken hitch on the back of a pick-up truck dragging the road somewhere deep in TX! He would never accept even possible failure & was programmed like a racing machine that just wouldn’t quit or die.

(Chad Hedrick leads his teammate Presti for another 20K victory in 2001)
(Chad Hedrick on top of the food chain finds himself on the Wheaties Box in 2006)
(Hedrick wins overall in 2001 in Germany)

Some say 52 inline world championships are a little too excessive as if he ran up the score board. Obviously that didn’t come from a world champion themselves. And as many greats did so previous to Chad, how many gold medals did he give up for his teammates over all those years? Now all of a sudden 52 doesn’t seem so high does it? Don’t get me wrong, Chad wasn’t always an angel to work with on & off the track but he takes nothing back or has zero regrets over any of it as it positioned him exactly where he wants to be post skating & in the game of 'LIFE' today! I was geeked to catch up with the now much more humble & happy go lucky Dad Chad Hedrick in Houston, TX this past weekend.

(Fila/Verducci's Chad Hedrick leads teammate Derek Downing at U.S. Outdoor Nationals 1998)
(Above Chad & baby Hadley Hedrick skate the Oval in Vancover 2010)

Here’s my interview with fifty-two time world champion & Olympic gold medalist, Chad P. Hedrick! (June 2011)

(Hedrick above leans into turn #1 in true Hedrick fashion - 2001 worlds)

(PETE SNELL) Chad, I honestly don’t know where to start as a million questions are running through my head and importantly enough, what’s running through everyone else's head.
So Chad, I know you got married back in 2008 to a beautiful Lynsey Hedrick & according to your Facebook life, all is great :)! But really how are you doing & what have you been doing since you stepped off the ice and/or inlines last?

(Chad Hedrick )- I'm doing great Pete. I am back in Houston enjoying life with my family (wife Lynsey and two daughters Hadley (2 years old) and Harper (6 months old). After the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver I took a whole year off trying to plot my next career move post skating. As I made the decision to leave the sport I knew I would have to set new goals for me post professional sports and that's exactly what I did. I am currently the spokesman for a nationwide energy company called Champion Energy, and also started a new career in the oil and gas business as a Sr. Account Manager. I manage 20+ accounts for a company called Valerus right here in Houston. We provide compression, processing & treating equipment to oil and gas companies across the world. Starting from the bottom and working my way up again just as I had to do in my skating career!

(Chad with wife Lynsey & baby daughter Hadley)
(Hedrick after the Winter Olympics)

(PS) What?? Chad with a job that requires wearing a tie occasionally to work? You traded in a spandex skinsuit for a business suit & tie job?? Kidding of course but that’s something I didn’t think I’d ever see, I’m impressed Chad! :) For the majority of your breathing life you’ve had skates on your feet. What was it like to wake up one day knowing you didn’t have to train at that level anymore if you chose not to?

(above, Hedrick at age 15 1/2 had already shocked the world at his young age and speeds he was able to achieve & maintain)

(CH) - You’re right, I learned how to walk on a pair of skates and it seemed like that was all I ever knew. Once I made the decision to hang them up it was a HUGE relief, but now I realize how fortunate and sincerely blessed I was to be able to travel the world doing something I truly loved. Man Pete, I traveled to over 30 countries with just my skate bag. That's pretty cool ya know? It's great knowing that I don't have to wake up and skate 25 miles everyday too. Now I need to work harder in my line of work as I grow as a professional in the game of life!

(Hedrick @ 2 1/2 years of age)
(Chad @ age 7 even on traditional quad skates was a National champion regardless of his small size at a very young age )
(Hedrick on right with Eric Heiden @ 2006 Winter Olympics where he received his first gold medal)

(Chad @ age 3 had a passion to win early on)

(PS) -Chad your name is still mentioned so much today whether it’s a discussion about inline racing styles, race strategies, transitions from quads to inline, pure domination, youngsters that went big or went home, technique and of course the DOUBLE PUSH. Do you have any idea of the influence you made on inline skating still today regarding these key areas? You were all of the above, what are your thoughts on that?

(Hedrick above in a training session on the road is generally acknowledged as having brought the Double Push technique to the public eye)

(Above, one of many articles or books written over his early years explaining Chad's unique style of skating, which quickly became the industry standard for inline speed.
Later, books or literature would be released over the next several years breaking down Chad's natural skating style)
(Hedrick warms up on a 200m banked track overseas 2000)

(CH) - Pete, I never tried or went out to create the double push, I never tried to skate in any certain way or like any certain someone. All I know is that I wanted to win more than anyone out there and I was there to prove that. I was the best at what I did. I really think that was the key to my success. Think about it, there were many athletes that might have been stronger or bigger than me, but I just wanted it way more than they did. As far as my influence on the sport- man I truly don’t ever think about how Chad Hedrick changed speedskating. That sounds really weird to me. All I know is that I had a lot of fun doing it and it taught me a lot about life. A LOT! The biggest lesson? It taught me that to be successful you need a passion, work ethic, and a heart the size of Texas! Haha!

(Hedrick in 1998 Las Vegas 20K in cruise control with his effortlessly DP technique that was said to be ahead of his time)

(Hedrick back in his daily training regimen put in 200 miles a week all year round)

(PS)Was there a time when you were competing that you felt or knew you were making SUCH an impact or changing the game for inline skating?

(Hedrick had the ability like no other the way he used his hip to push his recovery leg forward before the set down while hitting some sick edges & maintaining top speeds for miles)

(CH)- The time that I thought speedskating had been changed forever is when people started saying that my technique was the only way to skate. I thought to myself ‘man you guys are crazy’- it's not like I designed or made up the double push it's just how I naturally skated, bottom line. I didn't change speedskating- God did! Look, is my technique a good way to skate? Yes, but I will also tell you that I have been beat by other skating style or ‘techniques’. So again, it goes back to the passion and desire to WIN, not the technique! And yes I'm still like that even today in my new career.

(Hedrick above never claimed to have invented the DP however his natural style became the industry standard for proper technique which is still being perfected or used today by many)
(Skaters internationally look on during a clinic as Chad demonstrates tight crossovers ahead)
(Hedrick above a firm believer in his faith)

(PS) -Man I remember one thing about you which is you HATED to lose more than anyone I have every known as an athlete. You would rather give up air to breathe than to lose a race, & I don’t mean in a poor sportsmanship way but deep inside you really really resented failure & just HATED to lose! Everyone will say that they hate to lose but you took it to a whole different level. Why were you that way and are you still that way?

(Hedrick on left about to receive a silver medal to Dante Muse at the 1994 world championships)
(Above, Botero, Rosero & Hedrick)

(CH) – Exactly, WHO likes to lose? At the top level of any sport if you are even “ok” with losing you'll get eaten alive. My dad always told me second place was the first loser and I truly believed that, Whatever I dedicate my life to I was going to give 100% to be the best. Heck, do you think I wanted to skate 200 miles a week to get third? I don't think so!

(Above left pic, Hedrick takes a bronze medal to Shani Davis (USA) in the 1000m)

(Above right pic, Hedrick's Dad, Paul Hedrick who had a huge influence on Chad's entire racing career, celebrate his first Olympic Gold- 2006 -
Paul was Chad's biggest fan but also gave him a needed structure very early on and reminded him everyday how 2nd place is the first loser. Chad embodied that thought process throughout his career)

(Chad Hedrick above winning his first gold medal at the 1994world championships in France 9/30/94 "photo courtesy of VineMe)

(Hedrick wins his first Olympic gold medal for the 5000m at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy twelve years after his first inline world medal)

(PS) -Looking back now, what time frame comes to mind when you think back about your skating career the MOST?

(CH) - I guess the part of my career that stands out amongst all would be all of the world championships I competed in. I remember sometimes getting ready on the starting line & waiting for the gun to go off and all of my competitors from other countries were looking at me or at my skates like I had on something super special. I thought it was crazy that they were racing for 2nd place. I didn’t get it! I couldn't believe that sometimes the race was over before it started ya know? I have to say that feeling of alone or being the one to beat is how I want to live my life forever. I want people at my work today to look at me as though ‘what is he doing differently that makes him so good at what he does’? I love that feeling!

(Hedrick above center receives his first jersey & becomes a world champion at the age of 17)
(Hedrick 'middle' in 2001 France, World Championships)

(Hedrick leads pack in the points elim race on track in Pamplona, Spain 1998 world championships where he skated one of his best worlds earning 7 gold medals out of 7 events)

(PS) - Chad, you received FIFTY-TWO gold medals at the inline world championships during your career, (that’s not counting all the silver and bronzes along the way) and an Olympic GOLD MEDAL, two silvers and two bronzes on ice in your skating career. You set 93 National roller speed titles, six world records on ice & numerous U.S & International race records, some still held today. You’ve always been a pretty laid back & humble guy when it comes to your accomplishments in skating but do you have any idea how unstoppable & accomplished you truly were overall?

(CH) - 52 world titles blah blah blah. I was just a kid who truly loved what he did for a living & had a deep desire to win. I hope people all across the world get to have the feeling I had when I skated. To have a passion for something like that is an incredible feeling & very hard to explain. It's easy to be good when it's that much fun.

(In 3 years of being on the U.S World Team Hedrick became the most winningest inline skater of our time)

(Hedrick above in 2006 was in his ice prime setting 6 new world records)

(PS) -You literally ended some skater's careers because you simply never lost when it counted the most and when you did you came back twice as hard. I remember numerous times (when we were with Verducci USA) asking you to focus before a BIG race and try and take it a little more serious but you would literally laugh and tell me to relax, then go out there and destroy everyone and after the race tell me “told you to relax”! Was that the level of your confidence or was that part of you knowing people would let you do what you wanted in the race because you were Chad Hedrick?

Hedrick above always the jokester and laughable until that starting gun went off, it was all business from there!
(Hedrick pre-race jokes it up with Parra at the 06' Games)

(CH) - Pete I knew God had given me a very special talent and I was very fortunate & confident. You give an 18 year old kid confidence like that and it seems to be arrogance, but it really wasn't. I had so much pride for what I did and trying to prove everyday that I was the best, that’s all it was. My way of relaxing before a race was to have some fun. After so many years trust me you have to have some fun or suddenly you wake up and racing isn’t fun at all & it’s all downhill from there.

(Hedrick on right in the zone)

(Hedrick having some downtime fun on the Jay Leno after his gold medal)

(PS)- People said you were “ahead of your time or era”. How do you respond to that?

(Hedrick above in 2001 Overall World Champion)

(CH) - Yeah I heard that quite a bit as well. When people say I was ahead of my era I have one response. ‘My desire to win was ahead of its era”.

(PS) What do you remember to be some of the biggest obstacles in Speedskating aside from your goals of winning certain events?

(Hedrick above in 2010 Winter Olympics reacts to his time he had just completed)

(CH) - The biggest obstacle for winning events at the world level was the traveling. Wheeeeew! It seemed like we would go to Europe every other week and race guys that weren't jetlag like we were. It was challenging no doubt! Hedrick leads the pack internationally

(Hedrick above in 2nd often had the best race smarts when it came to strategy and pulling off huge upsets)

What do you miss the most about Inline Speedskating?

Chad Hedrick – Man I miss hanging out with the guys on the road. We had some great, great times (my teammates Derek Downing & Keith Turner). Just some young guys traveling the world racing on skates; it was truly amazing.

(Above from left to right, Jorge Torres, Derek Downing, Keith Turner, Chad Hedrick & Dane Lewis. Team USA 1996)
(1994 World Championships athlete orientation)

(PS) -
Since I’ve been back to the sport, not a meet or race goes by that someone doesn’t ask me still today about you or how you’re doing or even what you’re doing these days. Does that ever run through your mind? (People wondering about you) and do you think about your skating past each day even for a split second?

(CH) -
Pete I truly respect the sport, but when you start at 2 years old sometimes it feels good to get away and create some new goals in your life. Kind of start a new chapter ya know? Of course I think about it from time to time but not every day. God, my family & career give me plenty to think about :)

(Above, Hedrick 'left' during a speed clinic)

(PS) - Chad, you have a beautiful family & I know you work just as hard at it as you did in skating. Will there ever come a time that you will attend some competitions to simply enjoy the sport as a spectator on the OTHER side of the fence? Support your dad as a coach? Become a coach? Will either of your kids skate? Hadley for sure right? (lol)
(Hedrick with his newest baby girl Harper Reese Hedrick 2010)

It's funny you ask that because my dad just bought Hadley her first pair of skates. Who knows; If she likes it I may be in the rink again one day. Until then I'm fine where I am.

(Hedrick with baby girl Hadley Hedrick)

PS) -I honestly don't want to ask the #1 question on people’s mind or what I'm asked the most out there, which is “will Chad Hedrick EVER skate again??” because I already know the answer but for the sake of not getting punched in my face if I didnt ask, how would you answer this question?

(CH)- Let's just get this out in the open right now. Chad Hedrick is done skating, ok? I will never skate competitively ever again. I think 200 miles a week for 15+ years is enough, don’t you?

(Hedrick above leads the way in 2000-2001 season during his last few years competitively on wheels)

(PS) -Since you basically conquered the skating world on your own as a little boy, what advice do you give an up & comer that wants to be the next Chad Hedrick or Joey Mantia?

(Hedrick warms up with some bounce jumps before a race in 2009)
(CH)- - My advice to anyone in any sport is to choose something you truly love. A passion for your sport, job, or career is a huge advantage and like I said earlier- if you love it, it's easy to be good at it. This sounds cliché’ but I promise you that was the key for me!
(Above, Parra, D. Muse, T. Muse & Hedrick at age 17 - 1994)
(Hedrick in France 2001 caries the American flag after winning gold)

(PS) -Speaking of Mantia, do you ever keep up with who’s doing what whether it’s inline or ice, or how fast some of these guys are going today?

(Above, Mantia looks up to one of his idols, Chad Hedrick)

(Two of the greatest in their own - Mantia 'left' - Hedrick 'right')
(CH) - Pete I am out of the loop as far as what's going on out there these days. I've talked, eaten, and breathed skating for so long it was time for a breather. Only a few people in the sport would understand what I'm saying. Just ask Derek Downing! :)

(Above, Hedrick & Downing '1 & 2' at the 1999 PIRS race in Columbia, GA)

(Above, Downing 'left' and Hedrick 'right' the dynamic duo for most of the 90's take 1st & 2nd at Downers Grove 1996)

(PS) -The inline speeds and wheel sizes have definitely changed since you last skated on 80mm wheels for the most part of your career. I personally would have loved to have seen you race on 110mm wheels or some of the equipment we’re making today. Any thoughts on this subject?

(Above Derek Parra leads the way, with Hedrick on his heels, sporting 76mm wheels. Jonathan Webster in 3rd, followed by Derek Downing and Michael Cole)

- Hey I liked my 76 mm Ultimate Sidewinders, Haha. No, I hear the sport has changed a lot with much higher speeds. I can only imagine what my era would have been like if we would've gone any faster. haha

(76mm Ultimate Sidewinders, best wheel on market in 1992)

PS) -You STILL hold the record for the Northshore Inline Marathon (Duluth) when you were 21 years old in 1998 for a time of (57 mins & 18 seconds). 13 years later, now on 110mm wheels and teams working together still cannot touch that record you set on 80mm wheels that day. Explain that!!

(CH) - In Duluth that year man I think I sprinted for like 18 miles or so (grin) . I truly had a few days in my life where I felt like I was sprinting for miles and miles haha. That's a cool feeling to have! That's what it's all about for me. 100 lap race and taking off with 98 to go saying “COME GET ME BOYZZZ”! haha

(Above, Hedrick, Downing & Turner at the Duluth Marathon 1998. Hedrick still today holds the record for this ultra-speedy marathon 57.18)

(PS) -The fastest indoor lap we’ve seen today is 8.32 seconds set by Will Bowen (D&M/Luigino) and the next fastest lap was set just this year by someone you know really well world champion Harry Vogel (Luigino/ATOM Wheels) with an 8.36 in an NSC event. What are your thoughts on guys and gals still skating that are your age and your thoughts on going 8 seconds per lap indoors?

(Keith Turner 14 time world champion, Harry Vogel 3 time world champion and Hedrick 52 time world champion - August 2000)

(Hedrick helped revolutionizing not only the DP but also race strategies used indoors by doing intervals constantly in distance races, such as all out on lap two of a 100 lap race)

(CH)- That’s awesome, good for them. I wish them a long & successful career as I was fortunate to have myself. I loved skating indoors, there’s no better racing than indoors & going faster & passing & racing that fast was what it was all about! Again, good for those guys & I wish em the best!

(Above, Chad Hedrick 'middle', Paul Hedrick 'green & white jacket' & Derek Parra 'kneeling down' LAS Vegas Invitational Indoor meet)
(Above, Hedrick & Julie Brandt Glass @ a press conference)

Chad besides a LOT of hard work, what else do you owe your success too on a serious note?

- Man I wouldn't be doing this interview if God wouldn't have given me these talents and that passion. Also my dad stayed on my butt for years and I always wanted to prove to him that I could be the best. I dared him to say I couldn't do something haha!

(Above, Downing on left & Hedrick in middle at the World Championships)

(PS) -What toll did skating take on your body and/or health? Can we clear up the rumor about you may never be able to wear skates again because your hips are shot? Also your Dad told me at regionals last month that you had a little gut goin, is this true?(lol)

(CH) - Let's just say my body doesn't work like it use to. I had hip surgery before the 2010 Olympics and I'd be lying if I said skating didn't take its toll on my body. I can wear skates just fine, I just haven’t felt like skating, been busy with other things! I don't have a gut now- I'm just not at 5% body fat anymore- more like 15% hahahaha!

(Hedrick at his annual Chad Hedrick Foundation for Special Olympics Golf Tournament)

(Above Hedrick in middle 'white shirt' with his family)
(Chad often goofing it up with wife Lynsey)

(PS) - If you could do it all over again, would you change anything and if so what?

(CH)- If I could do it again?- well if you can make me 18 again LETS DO IT! I wouldn’t change a thing as I wouldn’t be where I want to be right now!
(Above, Hedrick 3rd from left, U.S Outdoor Nationals)

-What is your biggest or favorite inline memory that comes to mind?

(CH) - My favorite inline memories are the funny ones- like starting the final sprint with 2 laps to go when you thought it was the last lap. Then coming to the finish line thinking you won and everyone passes you haha! That’s funny.

(Above Hedrick far right celebrating at the 2010 Winter Olympics for the Team Pursuit event, Silver Medal)

(PS) -Who was your biggest mentor on wheels growing up?

(CH) - I always looked up to guys that weren't necessarily the most talented but guys who were "racers" The guys that came through when it really counted. No names in particular just hard nosed confident racers.

(Above, Derek Parra & Hedrick at the OTC in Colorado, Springs, CO)

(PS) -You’re now enlisted in the U.S Roller sports speedskating hall of fame, how does that feel?

(CH) - Man I didn’t even know I was getting inducted into the hall of fame. Nobody even contacted me haha

(Hedrick a US Roller Sport indoor sensation very early on)

(PS) -Anything you would like to say to the Speedskating world and all your fans out there?

(CH) - To all those in the sport- stay with it and have a LOT of fun like I did, When you get older you'll realize how much a simple little sport taught you & a lot about what life’s about; hard work, passion, and sacrifice. And thanks to everyone that supported me throughout & to the end of my career, I truly am blessed and grateful. Thank you!

(Hedrick raises thousands of dollars each year for the Chad Hedrick Foundation & the Special Olympics)

(Above from left to right, Ipo Sanfrantello, Tony Muse, Bob Justice & Chad Hedrick in Orlando pre-race)

(Above, this pic has nothing to do with Hedrick but WOW!)

(PS) -Thanks for your time Chad, you're an inspiration to many in our sport & have been a great friend along the way. Best of luck man and take care!

Well there you have it, Chad Hedrick uncut! Stay tuned as ATOM Wheels connects you to the world's best right here at
ATOM WHEELS. See you soon!

Pete Snell