Speed skating: Downbeat Davis fears U.S. may leave empty-handed

Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:48am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - A devastated Shani Davis fears the U.S. speed skating team may not win a medal at the Sochi Winter Games because of the psychological damage caused by a controversy over its racing suits.

The double Olympic champion came only 11th in the men's 1,500 meters at the Adler Arena on Saturday. Brian Hansen finished seventh, Joey Mantia 22nd and Jonathan Kuck 37th in another shutout for the United States.

The team announced late on Friday it was going to switch outfits after concerns that the Mach 39 suit, marketed as the fastest in the sport's history, was one reason behind the medal-less performance so far.

The International Olympic Committee permitted the team to switch to an old World Cup suit less than an hour before the 1,500 event, but there was no change in U.S. fortunes.

Davis said it was impossible to say exactly what role the suit switch played, but there was a psychological element to the fiasco.

"I feel like the damage of the suit was already done," Davis told reporters after the race.

"Just going through it mentally and using energy in ways we haven't used energy before, and worrying about things we didn't have to worry about in Olympic trials ...it took its toll.

"I spent energy in ways that I wouldn't have had to have done normally, and I can only do the best I can. The damage was already done."   Continued...

Shani Davis of the U.S. competes in the men's 1,500 metres speed skating race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato