SOCHI, Russia — In the biggest speed skating upset of the Winter Games, Shani Davis lost his chance at Olympic history when Netherlands’ Stefan Groothuis claimed gold in the men’s 1,000 meters, well ahead of the 31-year-old American, who finished behind the top group in eighth place.
His non-medal finish stands as one of the most unfathomable results in Sochi. Davis had owned the event since the 2006 Torino Games, when he claimed the first of two Olympic gold medals in a row, and entered the 1,000 final as the clear favorite among a top-heavy list of skaters.
“There’s no excuse,” Davis said. “I just didn’t have the speed I’ve always had.
“I felt fast in the open, but after that, I don’t know. I have to look at the film and see. I’m not shocked; I’m very in tune with reality. But I’m disappointed.”
At no point in his heat was Davis close to matching the pace set by the event’s top skaters, with the gap widening at each major marker along the 1,000-meter course.
He completed his first 200 meters in 16.66, .42 seconds off Groothuis’ pace, set two pairs before. That chasm grew as Davis progressed, moving to .67 seconds after 600 meters and ending at .73, with Davis finishing with a time of 1:09.12.
“I could see my split time, and I knew it wasn’t good enough but I still fought hard,” Davis said. “It just wasn’t there today. Obviously they’re (the Dutch) doing something right, and it’s up to us to figure it out.”
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