Sunday, February 12


As improbable as it may seem at first blush, a Houstonian, 28-year-old Chad Hedrick from Spring, Texas, has won the gold medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, in the 5,000-meter speedskating event.

Somehow the insufferable heat and humidity of Houston make it difficult to conjure up the thought that this city of ours, resolutely centered in the nation's sunbelt, has produced a world-class athlete who takes to ice, as a duck to water, but there's more to the story, as Paul Harvey might say ...

Chad Hedrick donned roller skates not long after he learned to walk and eventually became a world champion inline skater only to segue to ice skating in 2003. Sure didn't take him long to master blades instead of wheels with ball bearings!

And there's still more to his remarkable victory -- the inspiration for his feat:

But when times got hard and emotions bubbled to the surface on the biggest day of his competitive life, he did it for Nanny — Geraldine Hedrick, his maternal grandmother. She died Feb. 11, 1993 — 13 years ago Saturday — from brain cancer.

On the blade of his right skate, Hedrick inscribed her name and the date of her death. In his heart, he carried the love and encouragement she gave him as a child.

And as his coach, Bart Schouten, shouted, "For Nanny! For Nanny!" the blade bearing her name zipped across the ice, and Nanny Hedrick's first-born grandson carved his name into the annals of U.S. speedskating.

Is that a great story or what?