Americans shaken by latest loss

Thu Feb 13, 2014 12:30pm EST
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By Keith Weir

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The United States struggled to explain their latest Olympic speed skating failure on Thursday when top-ranked duo Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe both missed out on medals in the 1,000 meters.

That left the American team without a single speed skating medal so far in Sochi, and came a day after Shani Davis, the Olympic champion in 2006 and 2010, flopped in the men's 1,000 meters on Wednesday.

World Cup leader Richardson and world record holder Bowe had been expected to break the drought but lost out to surprise winner Zhang Hong of China, with the Dutch taking silver and bronze to add to their dominance in the Adler Arena in Sochi.

"The girls are disappointed, we didn't expect this coming in," U.S. coach Ryan Shimabukuro told reporters.

"Always at the Olympics the competition is fierce, but number one and two in the world and you finish seventh and eighth, that's not a good place to be sitting," he added.

He refused to shift the blame on to a new hi-tech suit designed by sportswear group Under Armour.

"I'm not going to comment on that. Under Armour has been a great partner for us," he said.

Richardson, who said she felt under pressure as a favorite coming into the race, said that a minor change had been made to the suit.   Continued...

Heather Richardson of the U.S. skates during the women's 1,000 metres speed skating race at the Adler Arena during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble