CBSN

Gold Medalists: 'Cloud Nine,' Jitters

United States snowboarder Shaun White celebrates his gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's Half Pipe Snowboard event at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy Sunday Feb. 12, 2006.
AP
There were some big disappointments for the United States in the first two days of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Michelle Kwan dropped out, Apolo Ohno wiped out, and skier Bode Miller got off to a shaky start.

But two U.S. athletes became golden boys, and The Early Show national correspondent Tracy Smith caught up with both of them.

The first U.S. gold medal went to inline skater-turned-speedskater Chad Hedrick, in the men/s 5,000 meters, and the second was captured by snowboarder Shaun White in the men's halfpipe. And, to borrow a phrase from White, they're stoked!

Hedrick is hoping his gold is the first of five, which would tie him with compatriot Eric Heiden's feat of five golds at the games.

"I'm feeling great," he told Smith. "This is my first Olympics, and the first event I've ever skated in. I came home with a gold medal, and it was really and emotional day, because I had so many people here from the U.S. and some from Canada, too. So, to have an appearance like that and come out victorious is just a dream come true for me.

"Saturday, when I got out there on the ice, it was a 12-lap race, and actually the first eight laps of the race my legs were numb. I felt like I was skating on cloud nine, and it was just meant to be. I've worked all my life for this, and it finally happened, and I'm so grateful for it."

Hedrick also toldThe Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith Monday, "In 1993, on Feb. 11, my grandmother passed away of brain cancer, so, (to honor) her, I put her name on my blade, with the date that she died, and I dedicated the race to her, and she carried me throughout the whole race, and I just felt like I had superpowers out there."

And up on the mountain this weekend, White's signature moves were also good enough for gold.