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Continued: With US speedskaters having miserable Olympics, team decides to dump high-tech suit at Sochi

  • Article by: PAUL NEWBERRY , Associated Press
  • Last update: February 14, 2014 - 5:25 PM

"The human factor is by far the largest piece out there," said Carpenter, a former skater and Olympic medalist. "There's not an athlete out there who is slowing down a second per lap because of the suit they're in. What is it: a parachute on their back?"

Another U.S. coach, Matt Kooreman, questioned whether the team peaked too soon and became complacent after their impressive World Cup showings.

"Did we lay off the gas after it looked like things were going well?" he said. "I'm sure the Dutch went back home after those North American World Cups and were really in attack mode."

Before going back to the old suit, Under Armour attempted some low-tech alterations to the new model.

"They did adjust one part on the back, but it was just putting rubber over the mesh there," Richardson said after a disappointing performance in the 1,000, a race she dominated during the World Cup season. "It had no effect really."

Looking to become the first male speedskater to win the same event at three straight games, Davis finished eighth in the 1,000 on Wednesday — the first indication that something might be seriously wrong with the U.S. preparation.

On Thursday, Richardson was seventh and Bowe eighth over the same distance for the women, another staggering blow given Richardson had won three World Cup events this season and Bowe took the other with a world-record time.

"It's sad," Mantia said. "I almost cried ... watching that race."

Davis, a two-time silver medalist in the 1,500, was attempting to remain confident despite all the turmoil surrounding the suits.

"I didn't come all this way to start having doubts," he said, trying to muster a smile after his off-day workout. "I trained really hard. I'm focused. I'm feeling good. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can. That's all I can do."

When it came to the new suits, he was more guarded with his words.

"Suit or no suit, I've got to go out there and try to win," he said.

As a U.S. Speedskating media official tried to hustle Davis out of the mixed zone, he stopped to answer another question.

"It's not their fault," he told the official, indicating he didn't mind the reporters' questions on the suits, which clearly have become a major issue within the team.

Then again, maybe it's not the suits at all.

Michel Mulder, who led a Dutch sweep of the medals in the men's 500, offered another explanation.

"It could also be," he said of the Americans, "that they were just outclassed here."

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