Recovering from a Slow Start
It was a somewhat bittersweet celebration when the U.S. tied The Netherlands on Wednesday after 12 days of often disappointing 2014 Winter Olympics results. Standing at 20 medals each, the U.S. Sochi results have included a number of disappointments and some surprises. Even this milestone was tempered when comparing the size of the team from The Netherlands (41) and that of Team USA (230). On top of that point, Germany’s total of eight gold medals still leads all the Sochi results.
With often fond remembrances of and references to the legendary Miracle of 1980, at least the USA hockey team is apace to keep in contention for a gold, standing at 3-0 after its initial three games. Led by coach Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there is no chance of a repeat of that storied game, as the home turf Russians are already out of contention. Canada left Team USA holding the silver at Vancouver in 2010 and still must be faced if there is to be gold here at Sochi.
A number of American skiers and skaters who came to this event with golden expectations for Winter Olympics results are sharing the early disappointments of the Russian hockey team. Listening to moguls medalist Hanna Kearny speak after receiving the bronze, it was almost as if she had not earned a position on the podium. In reality, she was a simple mistake in the medal round that placed Kearny in third and out of the gold. This, of course, contrasted greatly with her upset victory at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The fact that other Americans were eliminated early left the two top spots to the Canadians.
When fans speak of snowboarding, they always mention Team USA member Shaun White, a perennial champion. Unfortunately, his Sochi results won’t be adding an Olympic medal, gold or otherwise, to his resume. After bowing out of the slopestyle event, a decision for which he was heavily criticized, he failed to place in the Men’s Halfpipe event. Two slips in his YOLO flip left him in fourth place. This is the first time since 1998, when the sport first came to the Olympics, without an American on the podium.
Of course, the public and the media have both focused on the American speedskating team’s ongoing drama. After significant early disappointments when gold-contenders Shani Davis and Heather Richardson could do no better than seventh, the new high-tech suits from Under Armour came under close scrutiny. However, even after winning a special appeal and skating in the older version suit, Davis finished out of the money with a very disappointing 11th place time of 1:45.98. After accumulating a total of 85 Olympic medals, there’s a chance of going home empty-handed.
The final events will be watched closely for any more surprising and disappointing Sochi results from Team USA.