GANGNEUNG, South Korea — Three events into the Olympic speedskating competition and the Americans remain off the podium.
The latest setback came Monday night when world champion Heather Bergsma finished eighth in the 1,500 meters. Brittany Bowe had the highest U.S. finish of fifth, while Mia Manganello was 22nd out of 26 skaters.
Their results so far recall four years ago in Sochi when the U.S. team was blanked, a stunning result for a sport that has earned America’s most Winter Olympic medals.
Bergsma faded badly on her last lap, with her time going up three seconds from her previous lap.
“It was just a hard last lap,” she said in a flat voice. “It wasn’t my best race, so I can’t be super happy about it.”
Bergsma’s final time of 1 minute, 56.74 seconds was well off her personal best of 1:50.85, also the current world mark she set two years ago. She finished 2.39 seconds behind gold medalist Ireen Wust of the Netherlands.
If there was a bright spot at all, it was Bowe. She had the best result since Sochi, where no one finished higher than seventh individually.
Bowe has lost valuable training time since sustaining a concussion in July 2016 after colliding with a teammate during practice. The recovery limited her to one World Cup event before the Olympics.
“Felt great,” she said. “Best 1,500 I’ve had in a couple of years. It gives me great momentum going into my favorite race, which is the 1,000, so super happy about it.”
Bowe’s time of 1:55.54 had her in first place before she dropped to third with two pairs remaining. She got bumped off the podium by two Dutch skaters and another from Japan. Bowe’s personal best is 1:51.31.
Manganello, an Olympic rookie, had a cold in recent days, which kept her off the ice until Monday. She was confined to her room at the athletes village and her roommates moved elsewhere to prevent them from getting sick.
“Leading into this weekend I felt awesome, been skating really well technically,” she said. “Obviously today didn’t go as planned. I hoped for a lot better and I know I can do a lot better.”
First drug positive
Kei Saito, a short-track speedskater from Japan, came up with the first drug positive of the games: An out-of-competition test detected acetazolamide, a masking agent. Saito will be provisionally suspended from competition and must leave the Olympic Village. Saito had not yet competed at the games.
Kingsbury gets his gold
Mikael Kingsbury has been the world’s dominant moguls skier for six years. But he was frustrated at the Olympics four years ago, losing to his now retired countryman, Alexandre Bilodeau. With six straight World Cup titles, the Olympic gold was all that was missing from his mantelpiece.
Kingsbury left no doubt, putting up the top score in the final for every category: speed, turns and aerial tricks.
Gold No. 2 for Dahlmeier
It hardly seems fair to spot Laura Dahlmeier a 24-second lead. But based on her victory in the sprint event, that’s the head start she got in Monday’s biathlon pursuit. Dahlmeier, of Germany, missed just once and cruised to an easy second gold medal of the games. On the men’s side, Martin Fourcade of France overcame a 22-second handicap to win.
Hirscher wins combined gold
Marcel Hirscher of Austria won the men’s alpine combined event on Tuesday, the first career Olympic gold medal for one of skiing’s greats.
Hirscher used his elite skills in the slalom leg to rise from 12th place after the opening run of downhill.
His combined two-run time was 0.23 seconds faster than silver medalist Alexis Pinturault of France. Another Frenchman, Victor Muffat-Jeandet, took bronze, 1.02 behind Hirscher.