Team USA Suffers Tough Day In Sochi, Highlighted By White Failing To Medal In Halfpipe
Team USA yesterday at the Sochi Games had "what social scientists call a major bummer," as a day that "started out filled with the promise of Olympic milestones ended mostly with disappointment," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The men's halfpipe snowboarding event featured a "chance for a U.S. sweep of the podium," but Shaun White finished fourth, Danny Davis finished 10th and Greg Bretz finished last. The U.S. was hoping Devin Logan "could win the first gold medal in women's slopestyle skiing," but she took silver. The day also was "supposed to be the day Kikkan Randall won the U.S. its first cross-country medal" since '76, but Randall "didn't make it past the quarterfinal of the freestyle sprint." The "disappointments left the U.S. languishing in the medal race," as it entered today's competition with "just two gold medals and seven overall, well behind Norway, Canada and even the Netherlands." It is not clear "where the U.S. will find enough medals during the next 12 days to make up for getting shut out" yesterday in the halfpipe event (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/12). In Detroit, Jeff Seidel writes under the header, "A Forgettable Night For United States On Halfpipe At Sochi Olympics." Davis said, "We let America down. No Americans on the podium" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 2/12).
NO THREE-PEAT: In N.Y., John Branch writes White gave the "Olympic throne to someone else for the first time" since '02 after a fourth-place finish that placed him "probably higher than he deserved, White said, "For me to be remembered in the sport, I don't think tonight makes or breaks my career." Davis called White’s fourth-place score "'a gift' from the judges, and said the result was good for the sport." Davis: "The world knows now that there’s other snowboarders beside Shaun. It’s great, man. There’s a bunch of good riders in our sport, and they deserve some credit, too" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/12). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jason Gay writes, "Much had been placed on White's 27-year-old shoulders for these Games, some of it unavoidable, some of it unfair, some of it self-inflicted" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/12). In Boston, Shira Springer writes the Sochi Games "will be remembered for what White didn’t do in the halfpipe." It "certainly wasn’t what he envisioned, especially when he made a strategic decision to drop out of the slopestyle competition and focus on halfpipe." Halfpipe has "always been the event where White’s creativity, athleticism and fearlessness translate best," except for yesterday, when White "couldn’t execute the way he wanted" (BOSTON GLOBE, 2/12). In DC, Rick Maese wrote White's finish yesterday "gave the world its first glimpse of what the sport might be like without its familiar champion" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/11).
HUGE FOR LUGE: In DC, Barry Svrluga noted despite yesterday's shortcomings, U.S. luger Erin Hamlin "brought home a bronze medal in what amounts to a long-awaited breakthrough for USA Luge." Hamlin said, "Luge isn't the biggest sport at home, and we've never won an individual medal. Hopefully this gives it a boost. I'm happy to pave the way to the future." She added, "It's going to take a little while to sink in. I was the first American woman to win at worlds, so to be able to do this, I'm hopefully paving the way for future generations of female lugers" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 2/11). USA Luge Marketing Dir Gordy Sheer said that Hamlin's "unprecedented performance can 'raise the profile of the sport.'" Hamlin said, "Hopefully, it means we get a little more attention, some more funding so we can spread the numbers and a get a lot more kids involved and going forward just get stronger." USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt writes, "For an underfunded program -- compared with the German juggernaut -- medals can bring in money, and money leads to more development for athletes, coaches, technology and marketing." Hamlin's medal "could be a major step in that direction" (USA TODAY, 2/12).