SOCHI, Russia — Shani Davis' bid for a speedskating three-peat in the men's 1000 meters fell short on Wednesday, as the American long-track star had to settle for eighth place in his most successful Olympic discipline.
Davis, who blitzed his way to gold medals in 2006 and 2010, could not match the pace of Stefan Groothuis, who gave the Netherlands its fourth gold medal on the track at the Adler Arena.
The Chicago skater was left shaking his head after his race, finishing at 1:09:12, nearly three quarters of a second slower than the time posted by Groothuis just minutes earlier.
Having overcome an injury-plagued 2013 season, Davis was confident going into the Sochi Games and was looking to create a slice of history by clinching the 1000-meters crown yet again.
"I just simply didn't have the speed that I've always had," said Davis, who finished 24th in the 500 on Monday.
"Today for some reason I wasn't able to do it. I'll go back to the drawing board. I'll try to make a plan so I can just get a medal [in the 1500], preferably a gold one."
Canadian veteran Denny Morrison secured the silver medal in a time of 1:08:43, while 500-meter champion Michel Mulder earned yet more hardware for the Netherlands with the bronze.
Morrison did not originally qualify for the event due to a fall just before the finishing at the Canadian national trials, but he was able to compete after his teammate Gilmore Junio vacated his spot, believing Morrison had a better chance of securing a medal.
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The 28-year-old's reaction was one of delight, just as it was for Groothuis, who grabbed the lead in the 16th heat and had a nervous wait as eight more men tried, and failed, to overcome his time.
Davis looked confident before his race, lined up against top-ranked Dutch skater Koen Verweij. However, the American was unable to generate the kind of blistering speed he usually manages during the midway stage of races and appeared to go slightly wide going into the final bend, which may have cost him a few more precious hundredths of a second.
Many consider the 1500 to be Davis' strongest event, one in which he has garnered two silver medals in the past two Winter Olympics. Another possibility for a medal could come in the team pursuit toward the end of the Games, if he decides to take part in it.
Fellow American Brian Hansen also figured to be a medal contender on Wednesday but could only manage ninth place (1:09.21). Joey Mantia ended up in 15th (1:09.72) and Jonathan Garcia, among the earlier starters, placed 28th (1:10.74).
The U.S. has yet to generate much traction in the long-track competition. Both Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe finished out of the medals in the women's 500 on Tuesday night.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, continues its bid to complete a clean sweep of men's golds. Groothuis' victory and Mulder's third medal were the country's ninth and 10th medals overall.
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