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Discussion in 'Swamp Gas' started by RayGator, Feb 6, 2014.
USA Medal Count.
4 GOLD Medals.
2 SILVER Medals.
6 BRONZE Medals.
Meet the Three Floridians Competing in the Winter Olympics
By Kyle Munzenrieder
As native Floridians, we've always viewed the Winter Olympics as some sort of weird arctic elf games we'll never truly be able to comprehend. As it turns out, there are not that many Floridians who go on to compete in these frigid competitions compared to northern states.
Though, this year there are three Floridians who will brave these bizarre concepts of "snow" and "actual winter" to compete in Sochi, but before you wonder what went wrong in these people's lives that got them mixed up in winter sports, you should know that every single one of them actually got their start in inline skating before transitioning to ice speed skating.
Yes, they're all actually roller bladers at heart, which seems much more Florida-appropriate.
Hometown: Miami, Florida (seriously!)
Sport: Speedskating - Short Track
A high school baseball stand-out with inline skating aspirations on the side, Alvarez started pursuing speed skating on ice but missed out on the 2010 Olympic team. So instead he refocused on baseball and walked onto the Salt Lake Community College baseball team. Though, Alvarez was plagued by knee pain and eventually doctors found 12 tears between both of his knees. They weren't sure whether he'd play baseball again let alone skate, but after recovering Alvarez returned to the rink more dedicated than ever.
A Cuban-American, Alvarez is just one of two Latinos representing America in the games.
Hometown: Ocala, Florida
Sport: Speedskating - Long Track
Bowe started inline skating at the age of 8, and racked up a seriously accomplished resume in the sport. She won gold at the Pan American Games in 2008. Though, in 2008 she decided to shift focus and played basketball for the Florida Atlantic University Owls, though after she watched former friends from her inline skating days compete in the 2010 Winter Olympics she decided to make the switch to ice skating as well. She was soon racking up medals in that sport as well and is now the current world record holder for the 1000-meter distance.
Hometown: Ocala, Florida
Sport: Speedskating - Long Track
Another former inline skater, Mantia racked up several gold medals in the sport but decided as well to switch to speed skating in 2011. In the lead up to the Olympics, Mantia won gold at the Berlin World Cup back in December for the 1500-meter distance. He had never before finished better than 11th in a World Cup event.
Miami speedskater Eddy Alvarez resolute despite DQ in first event
The Miami Herald
Eddie Alvarez of the United States reacts after competing in the Short Track Men's 1500m Semifinal on day 3 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Eddy Alvarez of the United States reacts after competing in the Short Track Men's 1500m Semifinal on day 3 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
SOCHI, Russia -- Eddy Alvarez stepped on the ice. Checked his skates, adjusted his helmet, tugged his pivot glove. Stroked around the track. Took a deep breath. Exhaled. He was ready for the starting gun.
Then his game face gave way to a grin.
He couldn’t help it. He was in the Olympics. He was an Olympian. He was wearing the USA uniform. The five rings were dangling above his head.
He was here, competing in the Winter Games after so many years dreaming of it, sweating for it, crying about it.
The scene was how he pictured it, only better.
“The lights, the cameras, the noise, the people, the flags,” he said. “I’m so happy.”
What an unlikely odyssey for Alvarez, the speedskater from Miami, the second Cuban-American to compete in the Winter Olympics. From SoBe, where he was a roller skating prodigy on Ocean Drive, to Sochi, where he began competition Monday in the 1,500-meter race.
He was a baseball player at Columbus High who chose short track over shortstop. He chose sliding on his backside into walls at 30 mph over sliding into bases. He chose the combustible and unpredictable – some would say inscrutable and random – sport that gives the Olympics its most chaotic finishes.
“Long track speedskating is like a symphony, with a rhythm,” Alvarez said, comparing the sport of Jennifer Rodriguez – his inspiration and the first Miamian to compete in the Winter Games – to the sport of Apolo Anton Ohno. “Short track is like metal music, screaming inside your head.”
Alvarez loves churning around the 111-meter oval in a deep crouch at extreme angles in races that feature as many wipeouts as clean results.
“That’s short track,” athletes say with a fatalistic shrug after another spill makes them fall like bowling pins. They said it again Monday, knowing that bad fortune in one race gets offset by good fortune in another.
In Alvarez’s case, a calculated move turned into a penalized one, and he was disqualified from his semifinal. What was intended to be a bump became a shove as he tried to squeeze through a crevice between opponents with five laps to go.
“I guess I made an impact in my first Olympic event,” Alvarez said, smiling. “I might have dropped a shoulder.”
He saw an opening, tried to pass, knocked Italian Yuri Confortola off balance and sent him whirling away from the pack.
“My plan was to conserve energy from the back and pick people off,” Alvarez said. “I saw the Russian [Semen Elistratov] go wide in the turn and thought, ‘Here’s my chance.’ But the Italian was too close and I made too much contact.”
Alvarez kept racing but his momentum was broken. He wound up fifth, which was moot, because after video review, judges disqualified him.
“OK, the American is DQ’d but for me the race was finished right there,” Confortola said. “Basta.”
Alvarez, 23, son of a former boxing promoter, is not afraid to mix it up. The sport’s recently liberalized rules on contact when making a pass favor aggressive skaters. Alvarez made a strong move in his opening heat to finish third. He was disappointed his gamble didn’t pay off in the semi, but not upset.
“Things happen in short track,” he said. “I’m having fun. I’m letting the tiger out. It’s the Olympics. You’ve got to go for it.”
Besides, the 1,500 – short track’s longest race – is his weakest event. He didn’t compete in it this World Cup season. He’s still got the 1,000 meters, the 5,000-meter relay and his favorite, the 500-meter sprint.
“Eddy is not a distance guy,” U.S. coach Stephen Gough said. “I’m happy with how he skated. A door opened, a door closed. He was a little unlucky.”
Alvarez’s good friend and teammate J.R. Celski, the U.S. team’s top skater, placed fourth in the final after Great Britain’s Jack Whelbourne tripped in front of him, causing him to swerve and lose speed. Canada’s Charles Hamelin won the gold medal.
As for Alvarez, Celski said: “It’s a bummer. It happens to all of us.”
PROUD PARENTS LOOK ON
Alvarez’s parents, Walter and Mabel, were in the stands waving a U.S. flag and pinching themselves. They remember when their 4-year-old boy got roller skates for Christmas, skated around the furniture in their house in the Roads neighborhood and jumped off the back stoop. He used to entertain beachgoers as Eddy the Jet with inline tricks at Lummus Park. He became a junior inline champion, then took to the ice like a natural.
He excelled at baseball, too, like older brother Nick, who played for the Dodgers’ Triple A affiliate. Alvarez juggled sports for years, but always had a fascination with the Olympics. He devoted himself to speedskating, moving to California to train with Celski, then to Utah to join the U.S. team.
But wear and tear on his knees, and excruciating pain, almost forced him to stop. Double knee surgery to repair damaged patellar tendons two years ago renewed his ability to stick with a grueling training program.
“For Eddy to be one of the athletes in the Olympics is amazing,” said Walter who, like Mabel, was born in Cuba. “Having Hispanic roots, we are proud to have our son represent the country that took us in.”
In Sochi, Alvarez is just getting started. Look for that magnetic smile in the next event. It’s got a mischievous curl to it. He will find an opening. Or make one.
“That’s the beauty of short track,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen until you hit the finish line.”
Miami’s Eddy Alvarez, teammates reach 5,000 speedskating relay final after crash
The Miami Herald
Eddy Alvarez of the United States reacts after he competes in the Short Track Men's 1000 m Heat on day 6 of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at at Iceberg Skating Palace on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
SOCHI, Russia -- Miami’s Eddy Alvarez and his U.S. short track speedskating teammates survived a wild crash in the 5,000-meter relay semifinals at the Winter Olympics to advance to next week’s final, where they have an improved chance of winning a medal due to the misfortune of the top two teams.
The U.S. skaters had to wait after crossing the finish line last of four teams to find out if the referee would rule in their favor. He did, deciding upon video review that South Korea’s Ho-Suk Lee interfered with Alvarez when Alvarez tried to pass.
South Korea, silver medalist in 2010, was disqualified and the U.S. was waved onward to the Feb. 21 showdown. Defending gold medalist Canada crashed out in the other semifinal.
“It was a very stressful three minutes,” Alvarez said of the wait. “I’m extremely relieved. Now we have to skate to our potential in the final. We have to let the tiger out of the cage.”
Alvarez was accelerating through a turn with four laps to go in the 3.1-mile race when he hit Lee’s arm. Both skaters slipped, fell and tumbled into the pads.
“I got a real good exchange from Jordan [Malone] and came in hard,” Alvarez said. “Unfortunately, he [Lee] held his hand out there and I clipped it and went down. I’m glad the referee saw it. Sometimes those calls can go against you.”
South Korean skater Da Woo Sin concurred with the decision.
“We moved into them,” he said. “It wasn’t the Americans’ fault. There was a mix-up with our signals. It’s a pity.”
Alvarez, 23, a Miami Columbus High graduate, also advanced to the quarterfinals of the 1,000 meters with a second-place finish in his heat. Alvarez placed behind triple gold medalist Charles Hamelin of Canada with a time of 1:26.070, holding off Great Britain’s Jack Whelbourne by .016.
The remaining rounds and final of the 1,000 will be held Saturday at Iceberg Skating Palace.
Alvarez’s relay teammates J.R. Celski and Chris Creveling also advanced, as did favorite Victor Ahn, formerly of South Korea, now skating for Russia.
Alvarez also competes in the 500 meters – which he considers his strongest event – next week.
Former FAU star Brittany Bowe is latest U.S. speedskater to falter
The Miami Herald
Record-holder Brittany Bowe finished 8th in the women’s 1,000 meters and Heather Richardson was 7th, continuing Team USA’s inexplicable woes in Sochi.
USA's Brittany Bowe competes during the ladies 1000 meter race at Adler Arena during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, February 13, 2014.
Silver medallist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands, front, acknowledges the crowd, as Brittany Bowe of the U.S. catches her breath after competing in the women's 1,000-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014.
SOCHI, Russia -- For the sixth day in a row, U.S. speedskaters left the Adler Arena empty-handed, brokenhearted and raising questions about their new high-tech suits as they failed to reach the Olympic medal podium despite being heavy favorites in the women’s 1,000-meter event.
The latest shocker was world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the former Florida Atlantic University point guard-turned-speedskater, who finished eighth on Thursday. The Ocala, Fla., native was one spot behind teammate Heather Richardson and 1.45 seconds slower than Chinese gold medalist Hong Zhang – a considerable gap in a sport often decided by hundredths of seconds. The Dutch – Ireen Wust and Margot Boer – took silver and bronze.
It was very similar to what happened a day earlier in the men’s 1,000, when world record-holder and back-to-back gold medalist Shani Davis of the United States wound up eighth place in his signature event.
Bowe and Richardson had finished 1-2 in three of the past four World Cup races and had hopes of winning gold and silver medals here. Instead, Team USA is left without a single speedskating medal through six events. By comparison, U.S. skaters won 11 total medals in those same events in the 2006 and 2010 Olympics – six golds, one silver, four bronzes.
“It’s definitely not something we expected,” said U.S. coach Ryan Shimabukuro. “Always at the Olympics the competition is fierce, but when you’re No. 1 and No. 2 coming in and finish seventh and eighth that’s not a good place to be sitting.
“Obviously I’m disappointed. I’m upset. But I’m proud of the girls because they gave everything they had but it’s frustrating, to say the least. We came in with a lot of momentum and to be skunked so far is not fun.”
GOTTA BE THE SUITS?
Shimabukuro was asked by U.S. and Dutch reporters about possible flaws in the new suits, and whether adjustments will be made. It has been reported in the Dutch media that their team tested similar suits and opted to discard them.
“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said. “Under Armour has been a great partner for us. … I’m not going to speculate at this time. We’re obviously trying to evaluate the variables that could be there, but nothing I’m going to go on record with.”
The revolutionary “Mach 39” skin suits were years in the making and involved top-secret engineering from sportswear company Under Armour and Lockheed Martin, the aerospace and defense company. It was billed as “The Fastest Speedskating Suit in the World” and the project was cloaked in so much secrecy that U.S. skaters were not allowed to wear the suits at the Olympic trials or any other recent races. The suits were tested in wind-tunnels, but made their debut at these Olympics.
They feature a dimpled, rather than smooth, surface, meant to reduce drag. The polyurethane indentations are similar to those of a golf ball and are built into the forearms, lower legs and head of the suits. They also have a diagonal zipper across the chest, which is supposed to make the suit more comfortable under the skaters’ chins. And, an open mesh panel on the back to let heat out.
Richardson said they put rubber over the mesh panel before Thursday’s race, but she doesn’t feel that was a factor in the race. Elite skaters are always looking for any marginal edge, and these suits were made to shave hundredths of seconds off the skaters’ times.
A recent Washington Post story quoted Kevin Haley, Under Armour’s senior vice president of innovation, as saying: “We are confident based on the actual suit testing that the medal count in Sochi will speak for itself.”
Halfway through the Olympics, the medal count says something is wrong with Team USA.
‘ICE IS THE SAME FOR EVERYONE’
Shimabukuro said the sub-par performances cannot be blamed on the ice. “The ice is the same for everyone.”
He refused to blame the decision to train at altitude in Salt Lake City, where the ice is faster, gives skaters more glide and doesn’t require as much push. Bowe set her world record of 1:12.58 in Salt Lake City on Nov. 17, 2013. She had a fast opening lap Thursday, but lost speed as the race wore on.
“The team has produced on sea level tracks, altitude tracks all over the world this year,” the coach said. “We had the same setup going into Torino [in 2006] and had a lot of success there. It’s unfortunate but for whatever reason, we’re getting skunked.”
Neither Bowe nor Richardson chose to sulk or blame equipment or conditions.
“I don’t think anything went wrong,” Bowe said. “There are hundreds of variables that go into this and to try and pinpoint one or two things is impossible. It’s about being able to perform when it counts and this is when it counts. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the results we wanted.
“I think the top three girls laid down some really fast times and deserve 1-2-3 with the performances they put out there. I thought I was on a really good one. It was a really fast opener for me, really solid first lap. I was trying to hang on that last lap but lost quite a bit of time. When I looked up at the board, I thought it would be a faster time. Immediately I was pretty disappointed, but you have to take it all in with perspective.”
Considering that she had never raced on ice skates as of four years ago, she said she is thrilled to be here, and plans to spend Friday celebrating her Olympic experience in the Athletes Village with her father Mike, mother Deborah and sister Brooke. Her father is the boys’ basketball coach at Eustis High School in Ocala and coached his team in the District Championship last Friday – the day of the Olympic Opening Ceremony – and then flew here the next day.
ECLECTIC ATHLETIC HISTORY
Bowe has been a jock since she could walk. She did basketball dribbling exhibitions at halftime of local games when she was 3 years old. By age 13, she was playing basketball, winning medals at in-line roller skating and also playing on a U13 boys’ soccer team.
She played basketball at Trinity Catholic High School, and earned a scholarship to FAU, where she struggled with turnovers as a freshman but wound up as the starting point guard. She played there from 2006-2010. She is No. 8 on the Owls’ all-time scoring list, No. 4 in assists and No. 9 in steals.
In February 2010, Bowe watched the Vancouver Olympics and saw that some of her former inline roller skating competitors and friends had switched to speedskating on ice. She was intrigued, and decided to follow in the skate steps of KC Boutiette, Miami’s Jennifer Rodriguez, Derek Patta, Chad Hedrick and Richardson.
She moved to Salt Lake City, and joined Parra’s Wheels to Ice training program. Her big breakthrough came at a World Cup in Germany in 2013, when she won the 1,000.
Chancellor Dugan, Bowe’s former basketball coach at FAU, has been rooting her on every step of the way. She is now coaching at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky. On Thursday morning, she and assistant coach Shannon Litton (who also was at FAU) put on their “Bowe-Lieve” T-shirts and watched Brittany’s race live.
“I know how much she hates to lose, but I was so proud of her just being there,” said Dugan, reached by phone. “Three and a half years ago, she was learning how to skate and now she has the world record. That is what separates the regular athlete from the Olympic athlete. She has amazing speed, but more important she has that singular focus, that ‘It’ factor you just can’t teach.”
She remembered one day in particular, when the team was on a three-mile run around campus in a torrential downpour. “Most of the girls slowed down, but Brittany and one other girl were killing it, going full speed in the driving rain. I knew then she was special.”
US changing suits after dismal speedskating start
The Associated Press
Shani Davis of the U.S. puts on the prototype of the official US Speedskating suit during a training session at the Adler Arena Skating Center at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The team thought it had a chance to do something special, given some impressive World Cup results this season and new high-tech suits from Under Armour, which got an assist in the design from aerospace giant Lockheed Martin. Now, there's plenty of grumbling that the suits are actually slowing the skaters down in Sochi.
In this Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 file photo, Brittany Bowe of the United States warms up for the women's 1,000-meter speedskating race at Adler Arena during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. After a strong season on the World Cup circuit, the U.S. speedskating team has had a miserable performance the first week of the Sochi Olympics — and much of the speculation has turned to its new high-tech Under Armour skinsuit developed with help from aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin.
SOCHI, Russia -- They were touted as the fastest speedskating suits in the world.
Now the U.S. is dumping the high-tech attire after a dismal start to the Sochi Olympics.
Kevin Haley, vice president of innovation for suit developer Under Armour, told The Associated Press on Friday the Americans had received permission to go back to the suits they used while posting impressive results on the fall World Cup circuit and at the U.S. Olympic trials in December.
The change begins Saturday with the men's 1,500 meters, when Shani Davis hopes to make up for a disappointing performance in his first race at Sochi. Under Armour was busy altering the logo on the old suits, so it conforms with International Olympic Committee regulations.
"We want to put the athletes in the best possible position when they're stepping on the ice to be 100 percent confident in their ability to capture a spot on the podium," Haley said by phone from Baltimore.
The change was a stunning reversal after the Americans arrived in Sochi proclaiming they had a suit that would give them a technological edge over rival countries such as the Netherlands.
Instead, the Dutch have dominated through the first six races, winning 12 of a possible 18 medals, including four golds. The Americans have yet to finish higher than seventh; Davis and female stars Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe have all been major disappointments.
While Haley expressed confidence in the new suit, saying all the data proved it should produce faster times, he said the company agreed to the change because a few athletes felt it was actually a drag on their times.
"If they have one less thing to be distracted by," Haley said, "that should give them a little bit of an advantage."
The new skinsuits, developed with help from aerospace and defense giant Lockheed Martin and unveiled just before the Sochi Olympics, had definitely become a major distraction.
Even though several coaches and athletes defended the technology, it was clear that U.S. Speedskating needed to change things up to make sure this didn't become a total bust of a Winter Games.
"Morale is down right now," said Joey Mantia, another of the U.S. skaters in the 1,500.
The new suit, known as "Mach 39," has become a convenient explanation for the American woes, since they were unveiled so late in the game, without giving the skaters a chance to wear them in competition.
Even before the Olympics began, the designer of the Dutch suits expressed skepticism about the American claims. Bert van der Tuuk said he even tested some of the elements used in the U.S. suit — rivets, seams, bumps and a diagonal zipper to cut down on drag — and found they provided no significant edge.
Others backed the new suits. Haley said the majority of the team wanted to stick with it, but the change was made to make sure everyone was comfortable. ISU rules require the entire team to wear the same suit.
"There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is the most scientific suit in the whole world," said U.S. skater Patrick Meek. "These guys make F-16 fighter jets. If they can invade Afghanistan and Iraq, they can build a speedskating suit."
The Dutch athletes began testing their own new suits during the World Cup season and were allowed to use them at the country's highly competitive Olympic trials.
U.S. coach Kip Carpenter said there are plenty of plausible reasons for the U.S. woes beyond the suits.
"The human factor is by far the largest piece out there," said Carpenter, a former skater and Olympic medalist. "There's not an athlete out there who is slowing down a second per lap because of the suit they're in. What is it: a parachute on their back?"
Another U.S. coach, Matt Kooreman, questioned whether the team peaked too soon and became complacent after their impressive World Cup showings.
"Did we lay off the gas after it looked like things were going well?" he said. "I'm sure the Dutch went back home after those North American World Cups and were really in attack mode."
Before going back to the old suit, Under Armour attempted some low-tech alterations to the new model.
"They did adjust one part on the back, but it was just putting rubber over the mesh there," Richardson said after a disappointing performance in the 1,000, a race she dominated during the World Cup season. "It had no effect really."
Looking to become the first male speedskater to win the same event at three straight games, Davis finished eighth in the 1,000 on Wednesday — the first indication that something might be seriously wrong with the U.S. preparation.
On Thursday, Richardson was seventh and Bowe eighth over the same distance for the women, another staggering blow given Richardson had won three World Cup events this season and Bowe took the other with a world-record time.
"It's sad," Mantia said. "I almost cried ... watching that race."
Davis, a two-time silver medalist in the 1,500, was attempting to remain confident despite all the turmoil surrounding the suits.
"I didn't come all this way to start having doubts," he said, trying to muster a smile after his off-day workout. "I trained really hard. I'm focused. I'm feeling good. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can. That's all I can do."
When it came to the new suits, he was more guarded with his words.
"Suit or no suit, I've got to go out there and try to win," he said.
As a U.S. Speedskating media official tried to hustle Davis out of the mixed zone, he stopped to answer another question.
"It's not their fault," he told the official, indicating he didn't mind the reporters' questions on the suits, which clearly have become a major issue within the team.
Then again, maybe it's not the suits at all.
Michel Mulder, who led a Dutch sweep of the medals in the men's 500, offered another explanation.
"It could also be," he said of the Americans, "that they were just outclassed here."
Want to thank GatorBand for taking his time to post the very interesting and informative photos and bios on the 3 Florida "Winter" Olympians!
I'm sure everyone found it very interesting!
US / Russia hockey game on NBCSN right now is an amazing game. If you're not doing anything, turn it on now.
Never been much of a hockey fan, but a game like that could change my mind!
If all you watched was the last few minutes of regulation through the shootout, you would have seen an amazing hockey game. This was as exciting as hockey gets. And I'm officially a fan of TJ Oshie.
Mr. Putin can't be happy right now. I wish they would have shown his face on the disallowed goal
USA Today Snapshots 2.7.2014.
Greatest Number Of Years Between Winter Olympic Medals.
20. John Heaton, USA. Luge.
20. Richard Torriani, Switzerland. Ice Hockey.
18. Serguei Tchepikov, Soviet Union/Unified Team/Russia. Biathlon.
16. Ralsa Smetanina, Soviet Union/Unified Team. Cross-Country Skiing.
Russia/Slovakia hockey game headed to a shootout after a 0-0 tie through regulation and the 5 minute overtime.
This more or less eliminates Russia from automatically qualifying through to the quarterfinals even if they win because they would only receive 2 points (instead of 3) for the OT/shootout win. Would mean Russia would have to play in the elimination round on Tuesday to qualify for the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Big disappointment and makes a very hard road to the medal round for a Russia team that had a lot of pressure to take gold coming into these Olympics.
Another crash for Miami’s Eddy Alvarez at Sochi Olympics
The Miami Herald
Eduardo Alvarez of the United States, right, and Charles Hamelin of Canada crash out in a men's 1000m short track speedskating quarterfinal at the Iceberg Skating Palace during the 2014 Winter Olympics, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in Sochi, Russia.
SOCHI, Russia -- Another day, another crash for Eddy Alvarez.
The short track speedskater from Miami did not advance out of his quarterfinal heat in the 1,000-meter race Saturday after he was taken down by a Canadian skater who fell in front of him.
Alvarez was on his third lap when Charles Hamelin slipped, inadvertently elbowed Alvarez in the face and slid into Alvarez’s legs. They spun into the pads. Alvarez was left with a bloody and swollen lower lip.
“He got me good; my dad would be proud,” Alvarez said of his father, Walter, an engineer who used to be a boxing promoter. “My face has seen better days.”
Because Alvarez was not among the top two when he fell, he was not waved on to the semifinal by the referee. He finished third.
“Charles was like, ‘I’m sorry, man’ in his French accent,” Alvarez said. “I said, ‘It’s OK.’ He’s a great skater. It’s unfortunate for him. It’s unfortunate for me, too, but it’s part of the sport. It was a freak thing.”
Alvarez’s teammate J.R. Celski fell in the fourth quarterfinal and did not move on. He was leading after four laps when he tripped.
Alvarez, 24, a Miami Columbus High graduate, and his U.S. teammates were advanced to the 5,000-meter relay final after crashing because of the fault of a South Korean skater. Alvarez was penalized and disqualified from the 1,500 meters for pushing another skater while trying to pass.
He will compete in the relay and the 500 meters — which he considers his best event — on Friday.
Hamelin, a three-time gold medalist, said he caught a groove in the ice. Russia’s Victor An and the Netherlands’ Sjinkie Knegt were in the lead and avoided the accident.
An, formerly an Olympian for South Korea, went on to become the first man to win four Olympic gold medals in short track when he won the final.
US speedskaters shut out again at Olympic oval
The Associated Press
Brittany Bowe of the U.S. takes the start during the women's 1,500-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.
Brittany Bowe of the U.S. competes in the women's 1,500-meter speedskating race at the Adler Arena Skating Center during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014.
SOCHI, Russia -- The prospect of a medal shutout at the Olympic speedskating oval for the first time since 1984 grew more real for the U.S. on Sunday, as no American women managed to come near the podium in the 1,500 meters.
Heather Richardson had the best showing in Sunday's race, skating her second-best time at sea level in 1 minute, 57.60 seconds to wind up seventh. Brittany Bowe ended up 14th and Jilleanne Rookard was 18th.
Meanwhile, the Dutch swept the medals in an event for the third time at Adler Arena, giving the skating-crazed nation 16 of 24 long-track speedskating medals so far at the Sochi Games.
As did the men a day earlier, the U.S. women switched back to the skinsuits they wore during the World Cup season, ditching the new Mach 39 suits that were touted as the fastest in the world when the team received them on Jan. 1. Both versions are made by Under Armour.
The Americans didn't practice or race in the new suits until they arrived in Sochi. Although they first saw the suits after the U.S. trials last month, they didn't get them back again until the pre-Olympic training camp in Collabo, Italy, after individual tailoring had been completed.
"I think you guys are making more of a deal on the skinsuits than we are," said U.S. coach Ryan Shimabukro. "The athletes have to go and compete no matter what. The suits that they raced in today, that's the suit Brittany broke the world record in, that's the suit that Heather won three out of the four World Cups this year."
Shani Davis said the skaters "absolutely" should have gotten the new suits before Jan. 1 so they could have tried them out in competition. The four-time Olympic medalist from Chicago finished eighth in the 1,000 and 11th in the 1,500, his two best events.
Shimabukro acknowledged the delivery of the suits so close to the Olympics was "probably one of the things that we're going to look at after the season's over."
Bowe downplayed the suit controversy.
"The coaching staff and Under Armour have put in a lot of hours trying to figure out what to do," she said. "Nobody knows what it is. It could be this, it could be that. That's just one factor to try to eliminate and you saw the results today. We gave it our best shot."
Bowe, of Ocala, Fla., had no interest in comparing how she felt wearing the old suit and the new suit.
"I'm not the brains behind the construction of the skinsuits," she said. "I just put on what I'm given."
Tension has clearly been running high in the U.S. camp, with some of the skaters carefully choosing their words when talking about the suits.
On Saturday, media were limited to five questions about the suits. On Sunday, Bowe was hustled away from U.S. reporters after a few minutes. That led to a surreal scene in the mixed zone at the oval, with reporters accusing the team's spokeswoman of cutting Bowe off.
Richardson, of High Point, N.C., tried to be upbeat after the 1,500. She had the same seventh-place finish in the 1,000 and was eighth in the 500.
"Today was actually pretty good. I can't complain at all," she said. "I was so much more relaxed than I've been at any point during this competition."
Richardson has been the best U.S. woman in Sochi, with three top-10 finishes. Bowe was eighth in the 1,000 and 13th in the 500. Rookard, of Woodhaven, Mich., was 10th in the 3,000 in her only other individual event.
Brian Hansen of Glenview, Ill., had a pair of top-10 finishes on the men's side: seventh in the 1,500 and ninth in the 1,000.
The other Americans also fared poorly. Joey Mantia of Ocala, Fla., finished 22nd and Jonathan Kuck of Champaign, Ill., was 37th out of 40 skaters.
Four years ago in Vancouver, U.S. speedskaters won four medals, all on the men's side. The women are headed toward getting blanked for the third straight Olympics, not having won any medals since taking three at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.
"We're not going to do a full analysis. It's too emotional. It's too in-the-moment," Shimabukro said. "To do a specific analysis, you got to do it with a clear head and an open heart. Now is not the time."
Shimabukro said the way to try to change the team's sinking momentum was to stay consistent in its preparation.
"The worst thing you can do is all of a sudden start throwing darts," he said. "You want to make sure you stick with the recipe that has gotten them to where they were and where they want to be. It could just be the perfect storm right now that's going the other way for us."
Even before the suit debacle, the U.S. had little chance of contending for medals in the last two individual events: the men's 10,000 and women's 5,000.
With no American finishing higher than seventh so far, it's hard to see how the U.S. could put together a medal contender in either the men's or women's team pursuit, either.
The U.S. has been shut out in Olympic speedskating twice, most recently in 1984.
"When we fall short, it's very tough," Shimabukro said.
USA Medal Count.
Tuesday morning 2.18.2014.
5 GOLD MEDALS.
4 SILVER MEDALS.
9 BRONZE MEDALS.
Looks like Brittany can join another popular thread around here:
Would not want to be a Russian hockey player right now.
There was all the talk before the games of how the pressure was on for Russia's men's team to win gold in these Olympics. That won't be happening, Russia was eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals this morning following a 3-1 loss to Finland.
And Team USA is headed to the semifinals against Canada. Rematch of the 2010 gold medal game. We owe em one.
Team USA for women's hockey chokes. Gives up a 2-0 lead with less than 3 mins in regulation, and loses in OT on a power play by Canada. #Gag