by Ralph Routon
It's officially a slow start at the Winter Olympics for the Americans, thanks to the weather and a disappointing finish in long-track speedskating.
Up in the mountains at Whistler, continued weather problems forced postponement of the men's downhill ski race from Saturday until Monday, if not later. That delayed U.S. veteran Bode Miller's quest for another medal, perhaps a gold, near the end of his career.
Then, this afternoon at the speedskating oval in Richmond, the United States entrants could not challenge for medals in the men's 5,000 meters. Shani Davis, considered a medal contender and with the advantage of skating in the same pair with favorite Sven Kramer of the Netherlands, fell off the pace quickly and wound up 12th. Fellow U.S. skater Chad Hedrick, who won the 5,000 gold in 2006 at Torino, had similar troubles and settled for 11th.
Medal events also took place in women's biathlon and ski jumping, with gold medals going to Slovakia and Switzerland. So far, nine nations have one medal each, going into the men's short-track speedskating 1,500 meters tonight at the Pacific Coliseum, with U.S. star Apolo Anton Ohno in the field.