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Davis-Hedrick feud sinks to new low

Shani Davis got the best of Chad Hedrick, though it wasn't good enough for gold. Then they both took the Olympics' hottest rivalry to a whole new level.

These guys really don't like each other. That much they could shake on.

While Italy's Enrico Fabris was becoming an Olympic hero in his home country, upsetting the Davis-Hedrick showdown with a victory Tuesday in the 1,500 meters, the most compelling storyline was the two American favorites who settled for silver and bronze.

Davis, the runner-up, and Hedrick, a disappointing third, were forced to spend an uncomfortable half-hour in a brightly lit room that might as well have been the scene of an interrogation.

Finally, the truth came out.

Davis was still mad that Hedrick didn't shake his hand after Davis' victory Saturday in the 1,000. This time, Hedrick did shake hands and offer his congratulations, but that clearly was too late to soothe Davis' feelings.

"I'll be honest with you," said Davis, the first black athlete ever to win an individual gold medal in the Winter Olympics. "Sure, Chad and I are fighting for the same thing. But it would have been kind of nice after I won the 1,000 if he would have been a good teammate and shook my hand."

With that, Davis jumped out of his seat and stormed from the room, mumbling on his way through the door, "Shakes my hand when I lose. Typical Chad."

A response, Chad?

Now sitting alone at the podium, Hedrick didn't back down. He flipped on his microphone and said he was upset that Davis wouldn't take part in the team pursuit last week because he wanted to focus on his individual races.

A Hedrick-led trio was upset by the Italians in the quarterfinals, doomed by a slower skater who probably wouldn't have been on the ice if Davis had been available.

"We're all part of Team USA," Hedrick said. "We had a great opportunity to win the team pursuit. I felt betrayed in a way. Not only did he not participate, he wouldn't even discuss it with me as a leader of the team. I thought we passed up a medal."

Hedrick insisted he wasn't mad because the loss in team pursuit cost him a chance to win five gold medals - an issue that's no longer relevant anyway since he finished sixth in the 1,000 and has only a bronze to show for the 1,500.

"This had nothing to do with the five gold medals," said Hedrick, who started his Olympics with a dominating win in the 5,000. "I just felt betrayed in a way."

Davis and Hedrick came into the metric mile as the two clear favorites, the former world record holder against the current record holder, two gold medalists whose frosty relationship only added to a buildup that seemed more suited to a heavyweight fight.

Fabris, skating in the 17th of 21 pairs, shot to the top of the leaderboard. Hedrick went to the line in the next-to-last pair, his mind focused on putting up a time that Davis - skating in the last duo - wouldn't beat. But the Texan's early pace was a little too fast, and his renowned endurance let him down on the last of the 3 3/4 laps. His final lap was nearly a second slower that Fabris.

Hedrick glided around the oval with his hands of his knees, shaking his head in disgust.

"To be honest, I was pushing a little harder to beat Shani," Hedrick said. "We were so focused on each other that we were not focused on Enrico."

Then it was Davis' turn. He, too, went out quickly - his normal strategy for the 1,500. He took the bell more than a second ahead of Fabris' pace going to the final lap, but went even slower than Hedrick over the final 400 meters.

Davis crossed the line smiling and shrugging his shoulders while Fabris celebrated in the infield.

"I knew the time to beat and I just went for it," Davis said. "We had totally different strategies, and his strategy worked out best today."

While Fabris basked in the glory of his second gold and third overall medal of these Winter Games, Davis and Hedrick got busy with an Olympic-sized throwdown.

Too bad they won't get a chance to race again. Davis is skipping Friday's 10,000, the final men's event, leaving Hedrick free to pursue a second gold in another of his world record events.

"I'm just going to relax now and enjoy my Olympic experience with two medals in my pocket," Davis said.

And maybe cool down a bit.