American stars struggling in Olympics' early days

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 13, 2014 at 2:40 am •  Published: February 13, 2014
Advertisement
;

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — What a stunning sight: Shani Davis gliding around the speedskating oval, head down in defeat, staring glumly at the ice.

For the U.S. Olympic team, it's becoming more and more common.

One after another, some of the biggest American stars have wiped out in sunny Sochi.

From Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso to Shaun White and Sarah Hendrickson, this is hardly shaping up as an Olympics to remember for the U.S. team.

Davis was just the latest to falter, finishing eighth Wednesday in the 1,000 meters, a race he won at the last two Winter Games.

He was hoping to become the first male speedskater to pull off a three-peat. He didn't come close, fading badly after a quicker-than-expected start.

"I have to live with this for the rest of my life," Davis said. "I can't let it get me down, because I have other races to skate, but I'm pretty sad about it."

He's got plenty of company.

Miller faltered in the men's downhill. Mancuso, after getting a surprise bronze in the super combined, failed to medal in the women's downhill, her best discipline. White dropped out of one event and joined Davis in failing to even win a medal in another, the halfpipe, he owned at the last two games. Hendrickson never had a chance after undergoing major knee surgery six months ago.

"It's a bummer," White said of his defeat.

He could've been speaking for much of the American team after five full days of competition.

The U.S., which led the overall medals table at the 2010 Vancouver Games with 37, was fourth in the standings with nine as of Wednesday, trailing Norway, Canada and the Netherlands. Four of the American medals have come in snowboarding, including gold for Kaitlyn Farrington and bronze for Kelly Clark in the halfpipe on Wednesday night.

But they are hardly household names back home.

Not like White, Davis and Miller.

Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said it's far too early to push the panic button.

"Whenever we start predicting medals, we get way off track," he told The Associated Press. "Our job is to make sure the athletes are prepared. What we can control is: Are they ready to compete? I can unequivocally say we're ready to compete. And don't forget there's almost two full weeks left."

Clearly, though, things haven't gone according to the best-laid plans.

On Wednesday, the U.S. women's hockey team lost to bitter rival Canads 3-2 in a tense preview of the expected gold-medal match. The defeat didn't matter all that much in the grand scheme — the countries will likely meet again in the final — but it seemed to fit the theme of yet another American squad coming up short, for whatever reason.

Continue reading this story on the...