Speed Skater Blames Coaches, Not Suits, for Team USA's Lousy Showing

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After finishing last in Thursday's 5,000 meter speed skating competition, Maria Lamb coughed up an explanation for her and the U.S.'s poor performance in Sochi: the U.S. Speedskating organization is hurting more than helping. Specifically, she called out Finn Halvorsen, the managing director of America's long-track skating program. "[Halvorsen's] done a lot of damage the way he has single-handedly, perhaps, destroyed so many good athletes, at these performance at the Games, due to his calls and actions," she said. "It's fairly remarkable, actually."

Over the last couple weeks the U.S. and the world for that matter has been trying to figure out why the U.S. speed skaters haven't been winning anything.  Traditionally, it's been one of the U.S.'s strongest winter sports. "U.S. speedskaters have won 67 medals, most of any sport, yet with two days remaining in the Games, they have been shut out in Sochi. The Dutch, meanwhile, continue to dominate, having won 21 medals," The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.  

Earlier in the Games, the team's fancy new Under Armour suits were blamed for the team's slower times. But when they were swapped out, the U.S. skaters did not skate any speedier. And they haven't just been losing, they've been trailing far behind the competition. Clearly, something bigger is amiss and if Lamb is right, the whole culture of U.S. speed skating might be broken.

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Lamb explained her outburst on her blog, but didn't rescind her attack on the U.S. Speedskating organization. She explained that the reason she singled out Halvorsen was a mix of emotions — she finished last in her race and was interviewed shortly after. "I felt the truth ought to be spoken, so exhausted as I was, I did my best in the few minutes I had to tell it," she wrote. She then reiterated that she and her teammates felt sabotaged by leadership: 

 I have watched my teammates, many of whom are World Cup medalists, World Champions and Olympic Champions come here and not perform as well as I know they are capable of, and to me that was heartbreaking. I felt that we were let down by some of the leadership in US Speedskating, mistakes were made that were out of our control.

The Pioneer Press reports that Lamb has a few races remaining in Europe this season, but it's unclear how she will continue with Team USA after this outburst. Lamb wrote on her blog that she would continue, even though it might be with leadership she clearly distrusts. "I’m not done skating; my skating journey is nowhere near complete. I still love what I do, I know I have a whole lot more in me, and I am far too curious to move on until I find out just how much I’ve got!" she wrote.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.