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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Compared to convincing his future wife that he wasn't speedskating's Hannibal Lecter, winning an Olympic gold medal was actually pretty easy for Chad Hedrick.
It wasn't the fact that Hedrick, who defends his 5,000-meter title on Saturday, plies his trade with sharpened steel blades or has the icy-cold stare of a champion that led Lynsey Adams (now Hedrick) to speculate whether "he was a serial killer." (He's not, in case you were wondering.)
Instead, it was Hedrick's somewhat unconventional method for trying to win a date that raised her guard and ensured that what turned into a romance of Olympic proportions was slow out of the blocks.
Hedrick attempted to woo Lynsey with the kind of zeal, persistence and dedication that he hopes will lead to back-to-back golds and enable him to outperform favorites Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, Havard Bokko of Norway and Team USA colleague Shani Davis.
Back in late 2005, after spotting Lynsey's profile on MySpace, he bombarded her with messages in an attempt to strike up a connection – to no avail.
"His hardest task was to convince me that he wasn't a serial killer," laughed Lynsey, in a telephone conversation with Yahoo! Sports just moments before taking off on a flight to Vancouver.
"I guess it takes a certain kind of mentality to be successful. Athletes should never give up. He certainly didn't give up, even when I didn't give him any reason to think I was interested.
"He just kept trying. He messaged me at least five or six times before I even got back in contact with him."
Hedrick didn't win 50 world championship in-line events and go on to become a member of long track's elite without the kind of inner drive that conjures a refusal to accept defeat. Like virtually every Winter Olympic athlete, he is happy to wax emotional about the virtues of persistence, goal-setting, never giving up and chasing the dream.
Most athletes utter such words when talking about their competitive career; Hedrick transported the ethos into his personal life.
Although the pair hailed from the same hometown and shared some mutual friends in Spring, Texas, they had never met until the MySpace contact. Lynsey, seven years younger than Hedrick, who is now 32, had no idea that the man who suddenly started pursuing her online was, in fact, a world-class athlete.
"I wouldn't say I stalked her or anything like that," Hedrick said. "But I was pretty persistent.
"I had heard about Lynsey from friends and could see from her pictures how beautiful she is. I just wanted the chance to talk to her and know more about her.
"I tried a lot. I tried to be cool. I tried to be funny. Anything to get her interested. I wasn't giving up."
Finally, Lynsey's veneer of resistance cracked and the two started conversing. Online chatter turned into emails, text messages and eventually long telephone calls that forged an immediate bond that took them both by surprise.
A few weeks in, Hedrick took another bold step, booking Lynsey on a flight to his adopted home and training base of Salt Lake City for a long-distance blind date.
The wait at the airport proved to be a nerve-wracking one. First Hedrick wasn't sure if she would even turn up. Then he was thrown into a state of flux when several women with a similar appearance to Lynsey's strode through the terminal.
"I wasn't even sure if I would recognize her," he said.
There were nerves, too, back in Texas.
"We were all afraid for her safety," said Lynsey's mother, Lucretia Adams. "Not knowing anything about this man, not even knowing if he was who he actually said he was.
"Ted Bundy came to mind for some of us, so Lyns was told to check him out at the airport, and that if anything were amiss, she was to board the next flight back home.
"She called upon touchdown, again from baggage claim, and then finally on the drive from the airport. We are having a great time. Don't worry, Mom."
A few weeks later, Hedrick decided that he wanted Lynsey with him for his first trip to the Winter Olympics, the 2006 Games in Torino, Italy. Four years earlier, Hedrick had watched former in-line star Derek Parra win gold in Salt Lake, convincing him to change career paths and chase his own slice of Olympic glory.
"The relationship was sudden and fast and we both knew it," Hedrick added. "But I thought to myself that if Lynsey was the one – and it sure felt like she was – then I wanted her there for this huge occasion in my life."
The trip to Italy brought one gold medal, a silver, a bronze and a closeness that made both Hedrick and Lynsey realize that this was the real thing.
A little over two years later, they were married. Their daughter Hadley was born in March 2009.
Lynsey will be part of a nine-member posse of friends and family jetting into Vancouver to cheer on Hedrick as he competes for the final time before retiring from speedskating to concentrate on family life and some business ventures.
For the Hedrick family, the Vancouver Games represents a special crossroads. It was the Olympics that brought them closer together, and it will also be the final point before a new kind of life begins.
"The Olympics is extra special for us because of how everything has happened," Lynsey said. "It is the perfect time to reflect on our life, our relationship and how far we have come.
"The way we came together is very unconventional but it is a fairytale with a happy ending. I wouldn't have it any other way."