Five ring failure: U.S. disappoints in XXII Winter Olympics

It’s just not the year the U.S. hoped it could be. Not even close. For a country that isn’t traditionally dominant in the Winter Olympics, the United States has managed to disappoint in a shocking number of ways.

As of Feb. 16, the U.S. is tied for second in the overall medal count with 16. This is stunning considering they have yet to medal in several events they were expected to control.

Shani Davis and Brian Hansen, two gold medal favorites in speedskating, have netted nothing but controversy. After failing to medal in any events, it was revealed that their new Under Armour uniforms could be to blame. The uniforms, engineered by scientists at Lockheed Martin, were never tested before competition and have inspired a multitude of complaints from athletes.

Davis’ best finish thus far is eighth in the 1,000 meters, an event where he was a two-time defending gold medalist and the expected winner. He finished 11th in the 1,500 meters.

Hansen, a young, up-and-coming star, was expected to go for gold after securing a silver in Vancouver in 2010. He finished seventh in the 1,500 meters, ninth in the 1,000 meters, and a dismal 33rd in the 500 meters.

It’s incredibly disappointing, especially since it is currently costing the U.S. the overall medal lead. Are the uniforms to blame? Is the training to blame? Who knows? It’s mind-boggling that every single member of the U.S. speedskating team has completely failed. Likely, it’s a mental issue stemming from all of the other problems. In fact, Davis didn’t even consider the uniforms a problem until a Korean reporter informed him of the possibility. The media latched on, and now the team is thinking about everything except how they can win a race.

But perhaps even more shocking is the U.S. performance-or lack of one-in the snowboarding halfpipe event. This is an event owned by Americans. It’s an event that was literally invented by Americans. The Winter Olympics don’t have many sports that the U.S. can excel in or call its own, but the halfpipe is the one event that America can inarguably hang its hat on every time.

Shaun White is the king of the halfpipe and he failed to medal after scoring gold in Vancouver. The Canadians-yes, Canadians-took the halfpipe by storm and stole the U.S.’ event from right under White’s nose.

There’s no clear explanation. The poor conditions in Sochi could be at fault, as well as overblown expectations. But the fact of the matter is that the U.S. failed to show up where it mattered this year.

Thankfully, the hockey team seems to be keeping pace. The U.S. swept its first three games, including a thriller against the host nation, and look to be favorites to appear in the gold medal game. A win wouldn’t make up for the lack of competitiveness in other events, but it would lessen the sting.

Perhaps its just not the year for America. These athletes must show up when it matters to keep the interest high and the passion flowing.