Sochi Spotlight: Shani Davis
Shani Davis competes during the Men's 500m race one of two speed skating event during day three of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Adler Arena Skating Center on Feb. 10, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.
Fuel? Check. Oil? Check. Tires? Check.
After winning gold medals in the last two Olympic Winter Games and making his fourth U.S. Olympic Team this year, long track speedskater Shani Davis said he is revved up for the competition in Sochi.
“I’m a race car,” the 31-year-old Davis said. “You’ve got to put the best oil in it. You’ve got to keep it tuned up so on race day it goes the fastest.”
Race day arrives Wednesday, Feb. 12, for Davis, when he goes after his third consecutive Olympic gold medal in the men’s 1,000-meter race in Sochi. No American speedskater has won the gold medal in the same event in three consecutive Winter Games. Davis has a perfect record; he has never lost in the 1,000 at the Winter Games.
Davis finds himself in the hunt to become the first U.S. man to win gold in the same individual event at three consecutive Winter Games. Shaun White missed that record when he finished fourth in Tuesday's halfpipe snowboarding competition.
“I just love being in the position I am now,” Davis said after winning the 1,000- and 1,500-meter races at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the Utah Olympic Oval in late December. “Years ago, I never thought I’d be as good as I am now. I’m just so thankful that I’m here now.”
While the men’s 1,000 is the event where Davis is garnering the most attention, his Winter Games actually began with the 500-meter race on Monday, when he finished 24th and it will continue Saturday with the 1,500 at Adler Arena.
Davis earned the silver medal in the 1,500-meter race at the last two Winter Games, in Vancouver and Torino. In addition, he finished runner-up to Michel Mulder of Netherlands in the overall standings at the 2014 World Sprint Championships in January. He began the season by winning a gold medal in the 1,000 and a silver medal in the 1,500 at the Essent ISU World Cup event in Calgary, Alberta, and he won two more world cup 1,000-meter races later in the fall.
“Any time I step out on the ice and I put my hood on, I have something to prove to whoever is watching,” said Davis, a native of Chicago who was the first African-American to win an individual gold medal in a Winter Games. “I train hard. I’ve been doing it for 25 years, since I was 6 years old.”
Davis actually made his first U.S. Olympic Team in 2002 as a teenaged short tracker. Although he has competed in long track since the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, Davis still trains with the U.S. short track team.
Will Sochi be the last hurrah for Davis? Maybe not. The Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea remain a possibility.
“Funny, I keep reading in the media that Sochi is my last Olympics,” Davis told the international news service Reuters. “That might be more dramatic for storylines, but I wouldn’t say that at all. Maybe Sochi will be my last Olympics and maybe it won’t. …
“As a speedskater, Pyeongchang will be a special Olympics since our sport is revered so much there.”