SOCHI, Russia - The United States still awaits a hero.
Shaun White stumbled and nearly cracked his snowboard Tuesday in his bid to become the first Winter Olympian with three consecutive gold medals in the same event. He finished fourth in the halfpipe, an unthinkable result in the sport the carrot-topped kid from San Diego once put on the map.
“It's tough,” a disconsolate White told reporters at Rosa Khutor Park. “I really wanted to win, but it wasn't my night.”
White hasn't been alone. As Day 5 of the Sochi Olympics passed, the American contingent has yet to find its first truly memorable moment. There have been two golds among the overall medal count of seven — the latter figure ranking seventh — but both came in snowboarding, a sport the U.S. has long dominated.
Otherwise, Bode Miller bombed on the downhill after commanding the trial runs, Julia Mancuso settled for bronze after leading the super-combined, and several of the rest of the more famous athletes expected here were hurt. Notable among them were skier Lindsey Vonn and figure skater Evan Lysacek.
There's no shame in the U.S. performance to date. For example, Erin Hamlin's luge bronze Tuesday was the first American medal of any kind in singles. Moreover, some of the Americans' best events are ahead, notably speedskating and bobsled. They're still expected by most experts to win the medal count.
But the Olympics are about legends, about treasured moments.
Maybe the first will come Wednesday, when Shani Davis tries for his third consecutive gold in the 1,000 meters of long-track speedskating. No one before him had ever won two. If he succeeds, he'll make a powerful case for being one of America's greatest Olympians.
(Dejan Kovacevic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Dejan_Kovacevic.)