American skier Julia Mancuso reacts as she arrives in the finish area following… (Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP/Getty…)
SOCHI, Russia — The U.S. Alpine medal calculation for Sochi changed the second the ink dried on Lindsey Vonn's statement saying knee surgery would render her unable to compete.
Sochi was not going to be Vancouver, when Team Alpine USA won eight medals and, on the way out, almost offered the Austrians ski lessons.
Yet, Sochi wasn't supposed to be Nagano 1998, either, when Picabo Street claimed the only U.S. medal (gold) in a super-G she won by a hundredth of a second.
The halfway point of the Sochi Games has left the U.S. Ski Team at a crossed-tips crossroads.
FRAMEWORK: Best images from Sochi
Through five races Team America is left only to spit-shine Julia Mancuso's bronze in Monday's super combined.
"We probably expected a little more, to be honest," U.S. Alpine Coach Patrick Riml said.
The women came up short again Saturday, serving as bystanders as super-giant slalom medals were awarded to Austria, Germany and Austria.
The Austrians have already matched the four measly-to-them medals claimed in Vancouver after Anna Fenninger took the super-G with a time of 1 minute 24.52 seconds.
"Today is the best day of my life," Fenninger said.
Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch took silver to give her four medals in her first eight Olympic starts. She won gold twice in Vancouver and another this week in super-combined.
Austria's Nicole Hosp got the bronze, her second medal here after winning silver in combined.
America continues to hover somewhere in the Twilight Ski Zone over Rosa Khutor. It's not that U.S. racers are posting poor results; they're just not winning results.
Mancuso raced from bib No. 14 and was in second place when she crossed the finish line. It wasn't nearly enough to hold off the second wave of heavy gunners from Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Slovenia, who eventually knocked her all the way to eighth.
It was actually Mancuso's top super-G result this year, but expectations were higher after she scored a surprise bronze in Monday's super combined.
Mancuso and Leanne Smith were the only American finishers Saturday, as Laurenne Ross and Stacey Cook were among the 18 racers (out of 49) who skidded out on a very treacherous track.
Mancuso admitted to skiing too complacently, perhaps, after early Sochi success.
"I left the start gate wanting to ski well, but not necessarily to win," Mancuso said. "I could have been more on the limit. It takes everything coming together. You can believe so much, but you actually have to do it on the day."
The U.S. had won seven medals in Vancouver through five races, although the events were in different order.
Two medals (gold and bronze) were won by Vonn.
The opportunities lost in Sochi so far, clearly, were Mancuso and Bode Miller in the downhill races.
Mancuso appeared in command of the mountain after winning the downhill portion of the combined race.
And Miller won two of the three downhill training runs before he finished eighth.
"I think there's definitely some disappointment, for sure in the downhill," Mancuso said. "I wanted to have a better race and Bode for sure wanted to do better."
Ted Ligety, reigning world combined champion, finished 12th on Friday. Cook, on the women's side, was having a strong World Cup season but finished 17th in the downhill and did not finish the super-G.
Smith, it turned out, drew unlucky No. 2 Saturday on a day in which seven of the first eight racers crashed.
Smith was the lucky survivor but only in a time that would end up 18th.
No one says America has a lack of effort — it's the lack of medals that is troubling.
"The Games aren't over yet," Riml said. "We're halfway through.''