Mixed start for U.S. after favorites flop

Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:06pm EST
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By Julian Linden

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - With more than a third of the medals on offer at the Sochi Olympics already handed out, the United States is in a familiar position.

A team that was deemed to be one of the best America had ever sent to the Winter Olympics is tied for second place for gold medals with four and equal second for overall medals, with 12.

But their lofty placing hides the fact that many of their biggest medal hopes have flopped, leaving the lesser known members to shoulder an increasingly heavy load.

Lindsey Vonn never even made it to Sochi, withdrawing from the downhill because of a knee injury, robbing the alpine skiers of their biggest drawcard.

Bode Miller, one of the favorites for the men's downhill, did not win a medal while Julie Mancuso, who was one of the fancied competitors in the women's downhill after Vonn withdrew, also missed out on the podium.

Sarah Hendrickson, the world champion in women's skijumping, came 21st, while Shani Davis - who was chasing a third successive gold medal in the men's 1,000 meters speedskating - limped home in eighth place.

"I look at it as a job and an opportunity to broadcast my talents and my abilities to not only Americans but to the world," Davis told reporters after his loss.

"Unfortunately, I have built a legacy and a history of doing really well in the Olympics and doing really well in the 1,000 and being able to defend a title. But when the world stage is watching with the Americans and NBC watching, I just wasn't able to do it so I'm very disappointed in that."   Continued...

Julis Mancuso of the U.S. skis during the women's downhill training at the Alpine Ski World Championship in Garmisch-Partenkirchen February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Dominic Ebenbichler