U.S. speedskaters shut out again
Sunday, February 16, 2014
SOCHI, Russia — The prospect of a medal shutout at the Olympic speedskating oval for the first time since 1984 grew more real Sunday for the United States, as no American women managed to come near the podium in the 1,500 meters.
Heather Richardson had the best showing in Sunday’s race, skating her second-best time at sea level in 1 minute, 57.60 seconds to wind up seventh. Brittany Bowe ended up 14th and Jilleanne Rookard was 18th.
Meanwhile, the Dutch swept the medals in an event for the third time at Adler Arena, giving the skating-crazed nation 16-of-24 long-track speedskating medals so far at the Sochi Games.
As did the men a day earlier, the U.S. women switched back to the skinsuits they wore during the World Cup season, ditching the new Mach 39 suits that were touted as the fastest in the world when the team received them Jan. 1. Both versions are made by Under Armour.
The Americans didn’t practice or race in the new suits until they arrived in Sochi. Although they first saw the suits after the U.S. trials last month, they didn’t get them back again until the pre-Olympic training camp in Collabo, Italy, after individual tailoring had been completed.
“I think you guys are making more of a deal on the skinsuits than we are,” said United States coach Ryan Shimabukro. “The athletes have to go and compete no matter what. The suits that they raced in today, that’s the suit Brittany broke the world record in, that’s the suit that Heather won three out of the four World Cups this year.”
Shani Davis said the skaters “absolutely” should have gotten the new suits before Jan. 1 so they could have tried them out in competition. The four-time Olympic medalist from Chicago finished eighth in the 1,000 and 11th in the 1,500, his two best events.
Shimabukro acknowledged the delivery of the suits so close to the Olympics was “probably one of the things that we’re going to look at after the season’s over.”
Richardson, of High Point, N.C., tried to be upbeat after the 1,500. She had the same seventh-place finish in the 1,000 and was eighth in the 500.
“Today was actually pretty good. I can’t complain at all,” she said. “I was so much more relaxed than I’ve been at any point during this competition.”
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