Speedskater Chad Hedrick, now a father, yearns for one more Olympics

KEARNS, Utah - Chad Hedrick could not have dreamed that he would someday be sponsored by Pampers diapers.

He was a brash Texan, a mercenary who made the transition from inline skates to the ice and became one of best long-track speedskaters in the world, winning three medals at the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Flash forward three years and Hedrick is married with an 8 1/2-month-old daughter. There is a lot less bravado and a lot more introspection going on. Part of the reason is that he followed his performance in Turin with two years of poor results and lost confidence.

But with the 2010 Vancouver Games a month away, there are signs that Hedrick 2.0 will make another podium push.

He is coming off a gold medal in the 1,500 at a World Cup in Calgary in December, his first international victory since 2006. His time was a personal-best 1 minute, 42.14 seconds.

"It's great for my confidence," Hedrick said. "I'm making some big steps now without feeling like I'm on top of my game. I was very close to the world record and don't really feel like I'm 100 percent. Those are all good signs."

The week following, he was in New York City signing the deal with Pampers. Hedrick, his wife, Lynsey, and daughter, Hadley, will appear in Pampers advertisements leading up to the Olympic Games.

"We entered a new market, I guess," Hedrick said. "Different types of sponsors are coming to the table now. It's really cool."

Brad Goskowicz, president of U.S. Speedskating, predicted the long-track and short-track teams would win a combined 12 medals in Vancouver, one more than the teams won in Salt Lake City in 2002.

In order for that to happen, Hedrick is going to have to be in top form. Can he get there?

"It's been a struggle, being 32 years old this time around," said Hedrick, who has said he will retire after the Olympics. "The body has to recover quite a bit more.

"But it's been great and I've had fun. I know when Vancouver comes around and I go out and give it my best, I'm going to be very content with my road to the Olympics and stepping away from the sport. Hopefully, I'll leave my mark on the sport and people will remember what I did."