A Team USA ski coach admits there is a medal crisis after the athletes only took home three Olympic medals, five fewer from the last Winter Games.
Alpine director Patrick Riml said he knows there is work to be done after the country produced its fewest golds in the sport since 2002 and fewest medals since 2006.
Skiers Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn were the only Team USA alpine racers to finish with medals for the country, taking home a one gold, silver and bronze together.
In a telephone interview Saturday, Riml called his men’s team’s Olympic performance ‘disappointing’ and acknowledged that ‘we definitely have to rebuild’ before the 2022 Beijing Games.
Mikaela Shiffrin is one of two skiers who brought home an Olympic medal for Team USA, winning gold and silver medals in her events
Lindsey Vonn, 33, is the other Olympic Alpine skier to bring home a medal for Team USA when she won a bronze during the Women’s Alpine Downhill
Alpine director Patrick Riml was disappointed in his team’s performance at the Olympic Games, specifically the men, after they brought home only three medals this year, five fewer than the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014
‘We need to sit down and let it sink in and do a thorough evaluation,’ Riml told The Associated Press while traveling by car to Seoul ahead of a flight Sunday.
‘We have to take a very close look at how we prepare, how the season went, what we have to do better, what went wrong and what we have to do moving forward.’
He spoke as the Alpine team event was still being contested, but after the US had been eliminated by Britain in the first round of the 16-nation contest, which Riml described as ‘from our standards, a little disappointing.’
Lindsey Vonn is the one of only two Alpine skiers from the US to medal this year at the Olympics. This is the fewest amount of medals the US has received since 2006
This loss comes after controversy of multiple skiers from Team USA dropping out of the Alpine team event last minute.
American Ted Ligety, who finished 15th in Olympic GS title defense, said he would race in the team event if overall World Cup leader Mikaela Shiffrin, who vomited before coming in fourth place in Friday’s slalom race, did the same.
On Sunday, Ligety confirmed his run in the men’s giant slalom had brought an end to his Pyeongchang Olympics.
‘I was an absolute no before but I was thinking about it,’ Vonn said on Monday, following Ted’s announcement.
‘But now Ted´s gone and Mikaela is not doing it and so I don’t really think we have a strong chance of getting a medal since none of our top athletes are doing it so I probably won’t.’
With Team USA losing its star players, it comes as no surprise that they were out in the first round of the team event.
Switzerland won that last gold, Austria took the silver and Norway the bronze, leaving each of those countries with seven Alpine medals.
The Americans, meanwhile, finished with three medals from 11 Alpine races: one gold and one silver from Mikaela Shiffrin, and one bronze from Lindsey Vonn.
Shiffrin carried the US ski team on her back by winning two out of the three medals in this year’s Olympics.
Megan McJames skiing during the Alpine team event which Team USA was knocked out of in the first round
That total is down from five medals, including two golds, at the Sochi Olympics four years ago, when Vonn was sidelined after knee surgery.
In 2010, the US won eight medals, with two golds. In 2006, the full haul was two golds. In 2002, the American count at Alpine was two silvers, both courtesy of the now-retired Bode Miller.
‘We had quite a few up and downs,’ Riml said about the past two weeks.
‘We had some very strong performances and, in other events, we definitely were struggling.’
He said he was pleased with the US women, including having three members of the top seven finishers in the downhill.
But ‘on the men’s side, the performance was disappointing. … We definitely would have hoped for better results there,’ Riml said, adding: ‘Not just talking about medals, but the performances on each day.’
The American men had only one top-10 finish in their five individual events, Ted Ligety’s fifth in the combined.
Looking ahead to the next Winter Olympics, Riml noted that Vonn and Ligety — who have earned a combined five Olympic medals, including three golds — are not expected to still be competing. Both would be 37 years old.
‘We know we have to go into a rebuilding phase and develop some young skiers,’ Riml said, ‘and hopefully next time around, we can be competitive and perform on a high level.’