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No Third Gold For U.S. Speedskater Shani Davis

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Update at 11:10 a.m. ET. Davis Finishes In 8th; U.S. Women Lose To Canada:

American speedskating star Shani Davis has come up short in his bid to win a record-breaking third straight gold medal in the men's 1,000-meter competition, NPR's Sonari Glinton reports from Sochi.

Davis finished eighth Wednesday.

The gold went to Dutch skater Stefan Groothuis. Denny Morrison of Canada came in second place, winning the silver medal. Third place, and the bronze medal, went to Michel Mulder of Netherlands.

Davis won the 1,000-meter races in both the 2006 and 2010 Olympics.

Also Wednesday, Canada defeated the U.S. 3-2 in women's hockey. Both teams had already clinched spots in the tournament's semifinals, and they're widely predicted to meet again in the gold medal game.

Our original post picks up the story and looks ahead to the rest of the day:

Wednesday's action is on the ice. Speedskater Shani Davis is suiting up for a chance to win his third consecutive gold medal in the 1,000-meter competition.

As Bleacher Report puts it, a three-peat is "almost unheard of." If Davis does manage another win, "he'll become the first male U.S. Olympian to take home the gold in the same event at three consecutive [Winter] Games. Shaun White had the same opportunity on Tuesday but failed to even make the podium in the men's snowboard halfpipe."

"Obviously, I would love to try to win it, but there's a lot of people that would love to win it," said Davis, who won gold in the 1,000 meters at the 2006 and 2010 games. "So it's going to be a very interesting competition."

As NPR's Sonari Glinton has reported, speedskating is the United States' most successful Winter Olympics sport. Davis also has two silver medals in the 1,500 meters from the 2006 and 2010 games.

"I feel good," Davis said after a recent practice. "I'm healthy. I'm a lot stronger than I was last year at the test event."

Also, he's skating in a nifty, space-age suit that could possibly give America's skaters an edge.

Team USA Vs. Team Canada

In women's ice hockey, Team USA and Team Canada meet for the first time Wednesday. It is a fierce rivalry, so intense that it has actually broken out into brawls on the ice in recent months. The teams almost always square off in the gold medal game at the Olympics, but due to the way the tournament is being structured, they will meet in a preliminary round today.

Will there be fireworks? No doubt. These two teams are talented, tough and want to beat their continental rival more than anything. Will there be fisticuffs? Neither team is planning on it.

A Tie In Downhill — Really

While you were sleeping, something virtually unheard of happened. There was a tie for the gold medal in the women's downhill ski race. These races are decided by hundredths of a second, and yet Tina Maze of Slovenia and Dominique Gisin of Switzerland finished a more than a mile-and-a-half downhill sprint with exactly the same time: 1 minute, 41.57 seconds. Lara Gut, also of Switzerland, gets the bronze, and no silver medal will be awarded. Someone had better dial up the medal-casting factory.

American Julia Mancuso came in eighth place, just about a second slower than the winners. She had been favored coming into the final run of the competition but hit a jump wrong near the top of the hill. She won bronze Monday in the super-combined slalom and, with the downhill race, was going for a fifth lifetime medal. But it wasn't meant to be.

Add this to a long list of disappointments for American athletes who have been coming up short of expectations in the past couple of days. Perhaps those hopes were set too high, a combination of pre-Olympic hype and American exceptionalism.

Somebody's Watching, But Who?

Photographs and video of some of the outdoor events have revealed unmanned aerial vehicles, aka drones, hovering overhead. Many people assumed it was the Russians who were watching, what with the extensive security presence in the "Ring of Steel." But it turns out that the Olympic Broadcasting Services is using drones as an alternative to shooting aerial footage from helicopters. That's one way to save on personnel costs.

That doesn't mean Russia isn't watching, though. According to a statement from the U.S. State Department:

"Russian authorities have publicly acknowledged the incorporation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into their Olympic security plan. The use of drones for commercial and military purposes is not mutually exclusive, however, and spectators may observe either or both during their stay in Sochi. In order to use UAVs for broadcasting, the Olympic Broadcasting Services has said that a flight plan must be filed with the Russian civil aviation authority and permission obtained from local Russian police and the FSB."

So spectators and athletes may never know if that drone overhead is putting them on TV or putting them into a database of known persons.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Source: NPR

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