Shades of Sochi: U.S. speedskaters struggling at Olympics again
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GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Three events into the Olympic speedskating competition, the United States still hasn’t found the podium.
The latest setback came Monday, when world champion Heather Bergsma finished eighth in the women’s 1,500 meters. Brittany Bowe was fifth and Mia Manganello 22nd out of 26 skaters.
The results so far recall four years ago in Sochi, when the U.S. speedskating team was blanked. It was a stunning result for a sport that has earned the United States’ most Winter Olympics medals.
Bergsma faded badly on her last lap, with her time going up three seconds from her previous lap.
‘‘It was just a hard last lap,’’ she said in a flat voice. ‘‘It wasn’t my best race, so I can’t be super-happy about it.’’
Bergsma’s time of 1 minute, 56.74 seconds was well off her personal best of 1:50.85, the world record she set two years ago. She finished 2.39 seconds behind gold medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.
If there was a bright spot at all, it was Bowe. She had the best result since Sochi, where no one finished higher than seventh individually.
Bowe has lost valuable training time since suffering a concussion after colliding with a teammate during practice in July 2016. The recovery limited her to one World Cup event before the Olympics.
‘‘Best 1,500 I’ve had in a couple of years,’’ she said. ‘‘It gives me great momentum going into my favorite race, which is the 1,000, so super-happy about it.’’
Bowe’s time of 1:55.54 had her in first place before she dropped to third with two pairs left. She got bumped off the podium by two Dutch skaters and another from Japan. Bowe’s personal best is 1:51.31.
Manganello, an Olympic rookie, had a cold that kept her off the ice until Monday. She was confined to her room at the athletes’ village, and her roommates moved elsewhere to prevent them from getting sick.
‘‘Leading into this weekend I felt awesome, been skating really well technically,’’ she said. ‘‘Obviously, today didn’t go as planned. I hoped for a lot better, and I know I can do a lot better.’’
Carljin Schoutens finished 22nd in the women’s 3,000 on Saturday, and Emery Lehman of Oak Park was next-to-last in the men’s 5,000 on Sunday.
Next up is the men’s 1,500 on Tuesday, with two-time silver medalist Shani Davis, 35, of Chicago in his fifth Olympics. But he appears to be a long shot to medal based on his recent results.
‘‘We still have a long Olympics left,’’ Manganello said. ‘‘We have the [team pursuit] to plan for. We have high expectations there, as well as the mass start.’’