So far during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, American fans have been disappointed. Team USA entered with high hopes anchored on the skates of athletes like Shani Davis, Heather Richardson, Brittany Bowe and J.R. Celski. While all four of those athletes have each taken part in at least one event, the U.S. has no medals through six speedskating competitions.
On Saturday, Davis will try to snap the American drought in Sochi when he takes part in the 1,500-meter race, which will pit 20 different pairs of speedskaters against each other in one of the most exciting Olympic events.
Unfortunately, the event won't be broadcast live on TV in the United States, and it will only be featured during NBC's primetime coverage, but it will be streamed live online at NBC Live Extra.
Here's a look at the schedule and TV info for Saturday's event, followed by medal predictions for the gold, silver and bronze. For more, visit Sochi2014.com.
Time: 8:30 a.m. ET
Live TV: None
TV Coverage: NBC Primetime (8 p.m. / 7 p.m. CT)
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
Gold: Koen Verweij, Netherlands
Silver: Denis Yuskov, Russia
Bronze: Shani Davis, United States
The Dutch have been dominant in speedskating thus far and I think Koen Verweij keeps the trend going with a first-place finish on Saturday.
As Raf Casert of the Associated Press noted, this is expected to be a wide open race that has plenty of legit gold medal contenders.
"I could easily name 12, even 16 names," Russian coach Konstantin Poltavets told Casert.
But with his recent success on the World Cup circuit, I think Verweij will be able to take the gold medal on Saturday. Verweij has notched a top-three finish in each of the three World Cup events he's participated in this year, and he looks poised to continue the Netherlands' run of medals in speedskating.
So far, the Dutch have claimed 12 out of a possible 18 medals, including four of six golds, and Verweij also has some talented countrymen joining him Saturday, including 1,000-meter winner Stefan Groothuis.
Meanwhile, Yuskov has also enjoyed recent success on the World Cup circuit, as he won the 1,500-meter race in Astana, Kazakhstan in late November. Skating on your home ice sometimes leads to a nice advantage, as Yuskov also won the 1,500-meter at the 2013 World Single Distance Championships in Sochi.
Tough one. Just didn't have it today. But I also know strength comes from adversity. Just gotta reload for #1500 on sat.— Shani Davis (@ShaniDavis) February 12, 2014
As for Davis, I think he's simply too talented to be shutout of a medal again. Casert detailed where Davis stands after his disappointing performance so far in the Olympics.
The 1,500 is the race where the speed of sprinting meets the endurance of long-distance, and it takes knowledge and confidence to pace yourself for nearly four laps around the oval. At 31, Davis has the years of experience, but it remains to be seen whether he has found his groove again. He already knows what losing an Olympic 1,500 feels like since he had to settle for silver at the last two games. He will be racing in an older suit after the U.S. team dumped its new high tech suits Friday following a string of sluggish performances by racers.
Davis wasn't making any excuses following his eighth-place finish in the 1,000-meter race, per Wayne Drehs of ESPN.com, and now it's time to see if he still has his magic touch in his third Olympic games.