SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Losing is becoming more and more common for the U.S. Olympic team.
One after another, some of the biggest American stars have wiped out in sunny Sochi.
From Bode Miller and Julia Mancuso to Shaun White and Sarah Hendrickson, this is hardly shaping up as an Olympics to remember for the U.S. team.
Miller faltered in the men's downhill. Mancuso, after getting a surprise bronze in the super combined, failed to medal in the women's downhill, her best discipline. White dropped out of one event and failed to even win a medal in another, the halfpipe -- an event he owned at the last two winter games. Hendrickson never had a chance after undergoing major knee surgery six months ago.
"It's a bummer," White said of his defeat.
He could've been speaking for much of the American team after five full days of competition.
The U.S., which led the overall medals table at the 2010 Vancouver Games with 37, was fourth in the standings as of Wednesday, trailing Norway, Canada and the Netherlands.
Scott Blackmun, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said it's far too early to push the panic button.
"Whenever we start predicting medals, we get way off track," he told The Associated Press. "Our job is to make sure the athletes are prepared. What we can control is: Are they ready to compete? I can unequivocally say we're ready to compete. And don't forget there's almost two full weeks left."
Clearly, though, things haven't gone according to the best-laid plans.
In the new sport of women's ski jumping, the Americans would've been heavy favorites for gold if Hendrickson had been healthy. But the 19-year-old world champion had surgery on her right knee in August, and it was apparent after her first training jump that she had not fully recovered. She wound up 21st out of 30 starters, her only consolation having the honor of jumping first in the historic final.
"My performance was not the best," she said, "but I kind of expected it."
At least Hendrickson made it to Sochi. Two of the most notable U.S. Olympians were left at home.
Skier Lindsay Vonn — THE face of the pre-Olympic marketing push in the States — and defending men's figure skating champion Evan Lysacek were unable to compete in Sochi because of injuries.
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