by Rob Joyce
Pyeongchang hasn’t gone quite as well for Team USA as most would have predicted or liked. Entering Tuesday (Eastern time) the United States sits tied for fifth place overall with just 12 total medals, including five gold. Norway is running away with the medal count, sitting at 28 overall with 11 gold. Historically the Winter Games have been a “struggle” for the Americans, at least compared to the Summer Games, where just once (1988 in Seoul) they finished outside the top two.
At this rate it’s not going to be the worst Olympiad for Team USA, but it’s among these other showings where the US disappointed.
T7) 1956/1994 Winter Games (5th place):
The performance in Pyeongchang would, right now, join the Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) and Lillehammer (Norway) Games. In Italy the American figure skaters did the bulk of the work, with Hayes Alan Jenkins and Tenley Albright taking gold in the men’s and ladies’ singles. Ronald Robertson and Carol Heiss each won silver, and David Jenkins a bronze. While in Norway it was the speed skaters that won four of six golds, including two by Bonnie Blair.
T4) 1936/1972/1992/1998 Winter Games (6th place):
Four separate times the United States finished sixth in the medal count: in order, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Sapporo, Albertville and Nagano. The ’36 Games featured only one gold medal across the 17 sports – the two-man bobsleigh (now bobsled) – but obviously Jesse Owens more than made up for it in the Summer Olympics in Berlin that same year with his historic four gold medals.
T2) 1964/1968 Winter Games (8th place):
The Americans had identical seven-medal performances in Innsbruck (Austria) and Grenoble (France), with just one gold medal each: Terry McDermott won the 500 meter speed skate, and Peggy Fleming took gold in figure skating. However, not all was bad for the United States. Though the Olympics had been televised prior, the ’68 Games garnered extensive coverage, and is credited with growing the Winter Olympics’ popularity in the US.
1) 1988 Winter Games (9th place):
Calgary wasn’t kind to its southern natives, who stumbled to a ninth place finish with just six total medals across 46 events. There were only two gold medal winners – Brian Boitano in figure skating and Bonnie Blair in 500 meter speed skating – and there weren’t even many near-misses outside of speed skating, which the US traditionally does fairly well.