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Davis in 10K, out of US team pursuit

KEARNS, Utah - KEARNS, Utah (AP) — American Shani Davis plans to skate in all five individual distances at the Vancouver Olympics in February and will not compete in the team pursuit.

U.S. Speedskating confirmed Wednesday that Chad Hedrick has declined the Olympic spot in the 10,000 and that the spot instead was given to Davis, allowing him to race in the every distance. Davis will not compete in the team pursuit, because he did not enter the U.S. pool of athletes by the Dec. 24 deadline.

Earlier this month, Davis said he had no interest in the grueling 10,000 meters and was looking forward to racing in the team pursuit, an event he declined to skate in Turin.

U.S. Speedskating would love to have the world's best middle-distance skater in the pursuit lineup, but understood Davis' decision to go for all five individual races — something no American has done since Eric Heiden's gold medal sweep at Lake Placid in 1980.

"We respect that," said Guy Thibault, U.S. high performance director. "It's a tough schedule. He's in every (individual) event."

Davis holds the world record in the 1,000 and 1,500 meters and already qualified for those two distances, as well as the 500 and 5,000.

His decision not to compete in the pursuit at the 2006 games ignited a nasty, public feud with Hedrick in Turin. Hedrick felt Davis had let down his country and said so publicly, touching off the animosity that made headlines throughout the competition.

Given their history, Hedrick could have insisted on keeping his Olympic spot in the 10,000 and denied Davis the chance to compete in all five distances. But Hedrick said he didn't plan to enter the 10,000, focusing instead on shorter distances where he has a better shot at a medal to add to the three he won in Turin.

As for Davis and the pursuit, Hedrick is being more guarded this time.

"I don't have an opinion on that at all," Hedrick said after a team photo session Wednesday. "We have some great young skaters coming up. I'll skate with them, and we'll represent the country the best we can."

Davis would not comment as the U.S. championships wrapped up at the Utah Olympic Oval. With him out of the pursuit, the open spot went to Jonathan Kuck, who did not qualify for an individual distance.

Earlier in the day, Rebekah Bradford got a second chance after falling and used it to clinch an Olympic berth in the 1,000 meters.

Bradford fell just before the finish during her first race and was in tears for a few minutes before learning U.S. Speedskating had offered her a second try. Her time would not qualify her for the national title but could be used in deciding the final U.S. spot in the 1,000.

"All I could think about was 'That was it. That was my career,'" Bradford said. "It was an unexpected blessing."

Bradford's unofficial time of 1:16.36 easily beat Kelly Gunther's time of 1:17.10 and clinched the No. 4 U.S. berth in Vancouver. Thibault said the spot still could be cut if the International Olympic Committee thins the field, but for now Bradford is in.

Nick Pearson also clinched a spot in the men's 1,000, adding to his spot in the 500. Ryan Bedford picked up the No. 2 spot in the 10,000 by winning the endurance contest, barely getting through the final lap.

Maria Lamb earned a berth in her second straight Olympics by winning the women's 5,000, beating Nancy Swider-Peltz Jr. by 2.01 seconds.


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