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By KAREN CROUSE – New York Times

On Wednesday night, after becoming the first man to successfully defend his title in the event, Davis held an American flag to his chest, a gesture rich in symbolism.

At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, Davis became the first African-American to win an individual gold medal, but the feat was tarnished by his internecine sniping with his countryman Chad Hedrick.

So after blazing the corners of the Olympic Oval here, it seemed as if Davis turned one more corner when he took the flag and handed an end to Hedrick, the surprise bronze medalist, to unfurl.

Both wore smiles warm enough to create more puddles on the soft ice. Hedrick’s joy sprang from the unexpectedness of the result; his stronger race is the 1,500 meters, where he is the only skater to defeat Davis this season.

For Davis, the victory validated his controversial decision to skip out on the 500 meters midway through the event Monday, after a lengthy delay caused by a malfunctioning resurfacing machine and a middling first race.

He said at the time that he wanted to save his energy for the 1,000, but there were those who questioned how serious Davis had been about putting forth an Olympian effort in the sprint.

After digging down and producing a searing final 200 to beat Mo Tae-bum, the gold medalist in the 500, Davis had his quiet vindication.

“That last 200 meters was very difficult,” said Davis, who was timed in 1 minute 8.94 seconds. Mo, from South Korea, clocked 1:09.12, which was 0.20 faster than Hedrick, whom he raced in the 16th pairing.

“Maybe skipping the second 500 allowed me to recover,” Davis said, “and I needed all my strength and energy for the last lap of the 1,000.”


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