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Olympics / Sports

Sweet move, but not the kind of medal Shani Davis had hoped for

SOCHI, Russia -- Shani Davis finally got a medal at the Sochi Games, but it wasn't the one he wanted.

After the U.S. men failed to advance out of the quarterfinals of the team pursuit, a Dutch journalist presented him with a medal made of chocolate. A proclamation signed by speedskating writers thanked him for his candor and honesty in the media mixed zone through a trying Olympics for Team USA.

"I got a medal today," Davis said with a laugh. "It's awesome."

But for the first time in 30 years, U.S. long-track speedskaters failed to win a single medal that counts at the Winter Games. U.S. Speedskating's short-track team salvaged its first and only medal in its final race of the Games by earning the silver in the men's 5,000 meter relay.

American skaters had won a combined 31 medals at the last three Olympics, 19 in long track.

"This is something that's going to stick with me for a long time," said Davis, who won gold and silver medals in the 1,000 and 1,500 meters, respectively, at the last two Games. "I'm a pretty resilient guy. I've been through a lot of this stuff.

"This is going to be tough to get over but with some rest my body will be able to recover, and my spirit can start getting strong again. We'll see if I want to continue on this path of speedskating."

Davis, Brian Hansen and Jonathan Kuck, all of whom trained in team pursuit at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee throughout the fall, lost to Canada in the quarterfinals.

Canadians Mathieu Giroux, Lucas Makowsky and Denny Morrison finished the race in 3 minutes, 43.30 seconds, more than three seconds before the Americans (3:46.82).

"We struggled out there," Kuck said. "I can't think of a worse team pursuit. Unfortunately, it was at the Olympics."

The U.S. women's team also failed to advance, losing to the Netherlands' trio of Ireen Wust, Lotte van Beek and Jorien ter Mors. The Dutch set an Olympic record while eliminating the United States by 3.60 seconds. Brittany Bowe, Heather Richardson and Jilleanne Rookard comprised the U.S. team.

"We are happy we skated to the best of our ability, and we left the outside stuff out there," Bowe said, referring to distractions that have swirled around the team since early in the Games.

Davis, 31, said he was not sure whether he would continue skating after this season.

"You never really think about things like this happening," he said. "If you are going to train and dedicate yourself to the craft of speedskating or any sport in general, you don't go into it with the mind-set of not being able to medal.

"You have to envision yourself doing big things, and I think that's part of the reason why I stuck around these last four years."

Davis, who came into the Sochi Games ranked No. 1 in the 1,000 and 1,500 and still holds the world records in both races, said he did not think his age played a role in his performance here.

"Eventually, it does," he said. "But this time it wasn't age. I was doing pretty well. I'll just have to go through notes to see what was happening leading into here. I've had Olympics where I was undertrained and seasons up and down.

"There was a lot going on around me but I've dealt with worse, and I've performed under those circumstances. So there is no excuse not to perform here."

(c)2014 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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