Twice Olympic champion Shani Davis did not wear the much-lauded
Under Armour suit, which underwent hours of wind tunnel analysis by
aerospace contractors, during training on Friday as he went through
preparations for Saturday's 1,500 meters race.
That came after Davis, who had won three of the four World Cup races
this season, stuttered to eighth in Wednesday's 1,000m despite being
favorite to claim a record third consecutive Olympic title at the
"The suit I wore is a prototype with zero logos on it. Under Armour
made it for me," the 31-year-old Chicago native told reporters on
Friday after training.
"The Olympic suit and the prototype are pretty much the same thing
but with no pinstripe or USA on them. It wasn't my World Cup suit."
The "Mach 39" suit is being worn by the Americans for the first time
in competition, but Davis said he was unsure whether the topic of
switching to the World Cup suits was up for discussion at a team
meeting later on Friday.
Women's 1,000m World Cup leader Heather Richardson and world record
holder Brittany Bowe also floundered over the distance in the
women's event on Thursday to leave the U.S. still searching for
their first medal at the Sochi oval.
In contrast, the Dutch have won 12 medals, four of them gold, from
the first six events at the Adler Arena.
Davis, who won silver over 1,500m at the 2006 Turin and 2010
Vancouver Games, was trying to stay positive despite admitting he
still held disappointment in his heart over Wednesday's race.
"I'm honestly being as optimistic as I can be, suit or no suit, I'm
going to go out there to try and win," he said.
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"I'm optimistic, I didn't come all this way to have any doubts now.
I'm training hard, I'm focused, I feel good."
American coach Kip Karpenter said that if any member of his team
wanted to wear their World Cup suit they should do so.
But he pointed to the fact that Davis, the world record holder,
finished 0.73 seconds behind Dutch gold medalist Stefan Groothuis,
while Bowe and Richardson were more than one second adrift of
women's champion Zhang Hong of China.
"A skater does not lose a second (on the 1,000m) because of a skin
suit. Anyone who thinks that doesn't know speed skating," the 2002
Olympic 500m bronze medal winner said.
"In my opinion, the Dutch are just sitting deeper and pushing
harder. They are just skating better than us."
American skater Joey Mantia, who finished 15th in the 1,000m and who
will also race in the 1,500m with Davis, said the disappointing
results had soured the mood in the camp with six events remaining.
"We are all a little down right now," said the former inline skater.
"We could make a list of everything that's wrong, it could be the
suits, could be the food, we don't know.
"We've performed well in other competitions. All speed suits feel
like crap, they are all tight," he joked.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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