SOCHI, Russia – Shani Davis had a gold medal around his neck, but it was a chocolate one wrapped in gold paper given to him by an admirer after yet another disappointment Friday at the Olympics for U.S. speed skating – which will leave here zero-for-Sochi when it comes to real medals.
Davis, four-time Olympian and four-time Olympic medalist, was part of a three-man U.S. team that lost to Canada in the quarterfinals of the men's team pursuit.
A subsequent loss by the U.S. women to the Netherlands in their quarterfinal in team pursuit means no medals for the USA in 12 speed skating events. Early on, there were questions about whether new speed skating suits were a factor. But even after the U.S. skaters donned their former gear, the results never improved.
"What a day. That was rough," said Davis, who won two golds and two silvers in Torino (2006) and Vancouver (2010).
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This is the first time since the 1984 Olympics that the USA has won no Olympic medals in speed skating. In seven previous Olympics, it had won 29 total medals, at least two in every Olympics. The USA won eight medals in speed skating at the 2002 Olympics, seven in 2006 and four in 2010.
"This is something that's going to stick with me for a long time," Davis said. "I'm a pretty resilient guy, been through a lot of stuff. This is going to be a tough to finally get over," added Davis, who teamed with Brian Hansen and Jonathan Kuck in the pursuit.
"But with time, with some rest … my body will be almost recovered and my spirit will start getting stronger. We'll see if I want to continue on this path of speed skating."
In consolations Saturday, the U.S. men will meet France for seventh in team pursuit. The U.S. women will skate against Canada for fifth.
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At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Canada beat the USA in the Olympic final in the men's team pursuit. In the quarterfinal here, Canada won handily in a time of 3:43.30 to 3:46.82.
As he walked into the media area, Davis was handed the fake medal by an admirer. It was a chocolate treat wrapped in gold paper.
"We just had some miscommunications out there during the race," said Davis. "We were ahead for a bit and then we were behind, and the next thing I noticed we were two seconds behind. And I got really, really tired … and the race was over."
Where does U.S. speed skating go from here?
"We came in being one of the most decorated disciplines in the Winter Olympics and we come away with zero medals. It's horrible," said Davis. "But it's not up to me to figure out the changes. It's up to staff and … the coaches. That's their job. My job is simply to skate. I have to make changes within myself clearly if I want to be better that what I displayed here.
"We have to destroy and rebuild. It's going to start from ground zero."
In the women's team pursuit, the Netherlands was clocked in 2:58.61. The U.S. team of Brittany Bowe, Jilleanne Rookard and Heather Richardson was timed in 3:02.21 in the quarterfinal defeat.
Richardson's assessment of what went wrong at these Games?
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"Honestly, I think we're just going to have to look back. … Me and Brittany (Bowe) skated amazing in the first half of the season. We just lost it coming into here somewhere," said Richardson. "So I guess we have to go back and see what exactly that was."
Davis won gold in Torino and Vancouver in the 1,000 meters. He took silver in the 1,500 meters in the same two Olympics.
He was eighth here in the 1,000 and 11th in the 1,500.
"I don't know what happened," said Davis.