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TURIN, Italy - The latest twist in the rivalry between American speedskaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick came Tuesday, when they finished less than one-tenth of a second apart and then had to be separated on the medals podium.
That's what happens when somebody else wins the race.
Italy's Enrico Fabris stood between Davis and Hedrick as the gold medalist after a 1,500-meter race in which his time surprisingly held up against the last four pairs of skaters.
"Both me and Shani were confident we could beat that," said Hedrick, of Salt Lake City.
Each took his shot at the 1-minute, 45.97-second clocking and was well ahead of the pace most of the way. And each faded in comparison to Fabris' steady skating. That was more surprising in the case of Hedrick, who figured to get stronger later in the race. And clearly, Davis was much happier with a silver medal than Hedrick was with a bronze. Davis smiled and waved during a cool-down lap and Hedrick appeared disgusted, which was pretty much the look he was going for.
"I think I've lost my edge a little," he said.
The on-ice drama made for a riveting post-race news conference without Fabris, who was fulfilling his drug-testing obligation.
Davis chided American journalists for creating a Shaq-and-Kobe scenario and said it was doing the sport no good. Hedrick bought into the belief that Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan elevated figure skating to unprecedented levels of popularity in the mid-1990s and so might Chad vs. Shani.
Hedrick revealed his intentions to eventually become a movie star.
Davis said, "I'm no phony person; no way I'll ever be a Hollywood actor."
Davis responded to a reporter's request for a handshake by castigating Hedrick for not congratulating him Saturday after he became the first black athlete to win a Winter Olympics gold medal in an individual event, when he won the 1,000 meters.
Then Davis bolted for the door, muttering, "I don't want to hear what he has to say; he wants to shake my hand when I lose." Alone, Hedrick repeated his assertion that Davis "betrayed" him and the U.S. by not competing in the team pursuit - a relay race - in order to focus on the 1,000.
Hedrick has not been the same since he opened these Olympic Games with a victory in the 5,000 meters. First came the loss in the semifinals in the team pursuit. Then Davis won the 1,000 meters and Hedrick finished sixth.
That brought us to Tuesday, when Hedrick suggested he and Davis were so preoccupied with one another that it affected their skating.
Hedrick also acknowledged he "felt betrayed" by Davis' decision to skip the team race, explaining why he did not congratulate him after the 1,000 meters.
"There have been a lot of distractions about Shani, but we like to skate head to head," Hedrick said. "We bring out the best in each other. . . . [But] neither of us skated well, so I guess nothing's been settled yet."
Except for Davis' having beaten Hedrick in the last two races.
Davis, who will not skate in Friday's 10,000 meters, described himself as "really satisfied" with his effort in the 1,500, although he did not attribute that feeling to having finished ahead of Hedrick.
"We are rivals on the ice, but not as human beings. It's not like we're Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal," Davis said.
As for his skating performance, he said, "Four years ago I had nothing, and now I have two medals."
Fabris has three medals in these Games, meriting a phone call from Italy's prime minister after the race. The most intense part of the day for him was sweating out the times of succeeding skaters.
"It was a long wait," he said. "My heart was pumping very fast." The Americans tried, but they could not catch him. Hedrick moved into second place after skating in the second-to-last pair, then Davis overtook him for the silver, finishing .16 seconds behind Fabris.
So Davis is done, while Hedrick will have a couple of days off before his fifth and final race. "Those Dutch guys better watch out in the 10K," Hedrick said.
- Story includes contributing wire reports