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Continued: U.S. athletes in newer Olympic events faring better than megastars

Other athletes have simply not come through, including several with a chance to make history.

White, bidding to win his third consecutive gold in the halfpipe, fell on his first run and did not medal.

Randall, favored to bring the United States its first Olympic medal in women’s cross-country skiing, faded badly in both the freestyle sprint and the first leg of the 4x5-kilometer relay.

And Davis, expected to become the first male speedskater to win the same event in three consecutive Olympics, is part of a shocking fall by a U.S. speedskating team that has not finished higher than seventh in any of the eight events contested so far.

That sport has a long tradition of Olympic success, with U.S. skaters bringing home 29 gold medals and 67 overall — the most of any Winter Olympic sport. The team’s new bodysuits and its preparation for Sochi both have come under scrutiny as speedskating officials search for answers.

Concerns about potential flaws in the suit’s design caused U.S. Speedskating to announce Friday that its athletes will no longer wear the suits. U.S. coach Kip Carpenter initially rejected the notion that the suits were responsible for his team’s poor showing.

“A skater does not lose a second [in the 1,000 meters] because of a skin suit,’’ he said. “Anyone who thinks that does not know speedskating. In my opinion, the Dutch are just sitting deeper and pushing harder. They are just skating better than us.’’

While the traditional sports struggle to find their footing, the newcomers appreciate the history they are making. The sweep in men’s slopestyle by Joss Christensen, Kenworthy and Nick Goepper matches a feat accomplished by Americans in men’s figure skating (1956) and men’s snowboard halfpipe (2002).

“The contribution that slopestyle is making to the medal count is incredible,’’ said Goepper, who won bronze. “More than anything, it’s showcasing to the Olympic community and to the rest of the world how competitive, how cool and how overall awesome slopestyle is. We’ll be a highlight event for many Olympic Games to come.’’

 

Rachel Blount • rblount@startribune.com

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com





 

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