Christopher I. Hedquist (BA ’05) has a skeleton in his closet. But he’s not ashamed to show it. After all, he is a member of the U.S. national skeleton team. This sliding sport was reintroduced to the Olympics in 2002 and involves lying head first, face down, on a 3-foot-by- 16-inch sled and traversing a curving ice track at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour.
“I like daredevil, adrenaline-type sports,” Hedquist says. He began sliding at age 12 with the U.S. luge team, which eventually led to national and international competitions. He was a three-time junior national champion, twice in luge and once as a bobsled driver, yet it wasn’t until after serving a mission in Copenhagen, Denmark, that skeleton would dominate his life.
“My luge development coach asked me to try skeleton,” he explains. So in 2002 Hedquist attended skeleton school in Park City, Utah, and by 2003 had placed third in the U.S. National Championships. He was recognized as the U.S. Skeleton Rookie of the Year by the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. In January 2005 he won the inaugural skeleton competition at the World University Games in Igls, Austria.
It takes rigorous training for Hedquist to keep in top form. “I train six days a week and do three runs a day,” he says. “Even though the runs are around one minute, I’m physically exhausted.” The force encountered during a skeleton run is said to be similar to what astronauts experience during a space shuttle launch.
Even though it is very expensive and time consuming to compete, Hedquist’s hard work has paid off. In 2004 the athlete was the first American to win the overall Europa Cup title. At the November 2005 AIT America’s Cup Skeleton Tour competition in Park City, Utah, and Calgary, Canada, Hedquist earned four gold medals. In the first race of the 2005–06 Europa Cup season, Hedquist clinched gold. Hedquist narrowly missed out on making the 2006 Olympics team.
Custom sled builder Randall Parker of West Jordan, Utah, says of Hedquist,“He is not a typical international athlete. He is nice, team oriented, and will even help his competition.”
Read more at iceslider.com