PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) — U.S. Alpine director Patrick Riml began his trek back to Utah before the last ski race of the Olympics was done. He knows he has work to do after the country produced its fewest golds in the sport since 2002, fewest medals since 2006.
In a telephone interview Saturday, Riml called his men’s team’s Olympic performance “disappointing” and acknowledged that “we definitely have to rebuild” before the 2022 Beijing Games.
“We need to sit down and let it sink in and do a thorough evaluation,” Riml told The Associated Press while traveling by car to Seoul ahead of a flight Sunday. “We have to take a very close look at how we prepare, how the season went, what we have to do better, what went wrong and what we have to do moving forward.”
He spoke as the Alpine team event was still being contested, but after the U.S. had been eliminated by Britain in the first round of the 16-nation contest, which Riml described as “from our standards, a little disappointing.” Switzerland won that last gold, Austria took the silver and Norway the bronze, leaving each of those countries with seven Alpine medals.
The Americans, meanwhile, finished with three medals from 11 Alpine races: one gold and one silver from Mikaela Shiffrin, and one bronze from Lindsey Vonn.
That total is down from five medals, including two golds, at the Sochi Olympics four years ago, when Vonn was sidelined after knee surgery. In 2010, the U.S. won eight medals, with two golds. In 2006, the full haul was two golds. In 2002, the American count at Alpine was two silvers, both courtesy of the now-retired Bode Miller.
“We had quite a few up and downs,” Riml said about the past two weeks. “We had some very strong performances and, in other events, we definitely were struggling.”
He said he was pleased with the U.S. women, including having three members of the top seven finishers in the downhill.
But “on the men’s side, the performance was disappointing. … We definitely would have hoped for better results there,” Riml said, adding: “Not just talking about medals, but the performances on each day.”
The American men had only one top-10 finish in their five individual events, Ted Ligety’s fifth in the combined.
Looking ahead to the next Winter Olympics, Riml noted that Vonn and Ligety — who have earned a combined five Olympic medals, including three golds — are not expected to still be competing. Both would be 37 years old.
“We know we have to go into a rebuilding phase and develop some young skiers,” Riml said, “and hopefully next time around, we can be competitive and perform on a high level.”
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