The US team is falling apart at the Winter Olympics and is on pace to have its worst medal performance in two decades

  • Team USA is on pace for its worst performance at the Winter Olympics since the 1998 games.
  • The disappointing medal count is due both to superstars underperforming as well as a string of bad luck with athletes finishing just shy of the podium.
  • While there's no chance the Americans can catch Norway at the top of the medal count, there's still time for the team to turn its Olympic perfomance around before closing ceremony.


The United States delegation is on pace for its worst medal performance in two decades at the Winter Olympics — a disappointing result for the team that entered the games with high hopes.

As things stand, the U.S. is in sixth place at Pyeongchang 2018 with just 12 medals to its name. Norway far and away leads the pack with 29 medals, followed by Germany and Canada with 23 and 19 respectively. 

The blame for The United States' lackluster performance can't be placed on any singular factor — it's the result of both stars and up-and-coming athletes falling short of expectations, as well as some decidedly bad luck for athletes fighting for the final spot on the podium.

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Americans who have medaled at the 2018 Winter Olympics
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Americans who have medaled at the 2018 Winter Olympics
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: Gold medalist Chloe Kim of the United States poses during the medal ceremony for the Snowboard Ladies' Halfpipe Final on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 13: Bronze medalist Arielle Gold of the United States poses during the medal ceremony for the Snowboard Ladies' Halfpipe Final on day four of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 13, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 11: U.S. Olympian Red Gerard poses with his Gold Medal at the USA House at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 11, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC)
USA's gold medallist Jamie Anderson poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's snowboard slopestyle at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's silver medallist Chris Mazdzer poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the men's luge singles at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
The USA team who won bronze pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the figure skating team event at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 12, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 12: Bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States pose with their teammates during the victory ceremony after the Figure Skating Team Event at Medal Plaza on February 12, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
USA's Shaun White with his gold medal after victory in the Men's Halfpipe Snowboard during the medal ceremony at the Medal Plaza during day five of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Giant Slalom on day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 18: Silver medalist Nick Goepper of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Freestyle Skiing Men's Ski Slopestyle on day nine of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 18, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - USA's silver medallist John-Henry Krueger kisses his medal on the podium during the medal ceremony for the short track men's 1000m at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 18, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 20: Bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of the United States celebrate during the medal ceremony for Figure Skating - Ice Dance Free Dance on day 11 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 20, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
USA's bronze medallist Brita Sigourney poses on the podium during the medal ceremony for the freestyle skiing women's halfpipe at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 20, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
Pyeongchang, Gangwon - FEBRUARY 21: Bronze medallist Lindsey Vonn of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for the Ladies' Downhill on day twelve of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal PlazaFebruary 21, 2018 (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 21: Heather Bergsma, Brittany Bowe, Mia Manganello and Carlijn Schoutens of the United States celebrate after winning the bronze medal in the Speed Skating Ladies' Team Pursuit Final B against Canada on day 12 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Oval on February 21, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Amin Mohammad Jamali/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 21: Jessica Diggins of the United States (L) and Kikkan Randall of the United States celebrate as they win gold during the Cross Country Ladies' Team Sprint Free Final on day 12 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on February 21, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, Feb. 22, 2018 -- David Wise of the United States celebrates with his family after men's ski halfpipe of freestyle skiing at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games at Phoenix Snow Park, PyeongChang, South Korea, Feb. 22, 2018. David Wise won the gold medal with 97.20 points. (Xinhua/Wu Zhuang via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 22: Jamie Anderson of United States is seen with her silver medal from the Ladies Snowboard Big Air Final at Medal Plaza on February 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA -FEBRUARY 22: Silver medalist Mikaela Shiffrin #19 of the United States at the presentations after the Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Alpine Combined Slalom at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 22, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 22: (L-R) Carlijn Schoutens and Mia Manganello of the United States celebrate during the medal ceremony for Speed Skating - Ladies' Team Pursuit on day 13 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 22: Silver medalist Alex Ferreira of the United States celebrates during the medal ceremony for Freestyle Skiing - Men's Ski Halfpipe on day 13 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 22: Silver medalists Lauren Gibbs and Elana Meyers Taylor of the United States celebrate during the medal ceremony for Bobsleigh - Women on day 13 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 22, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, Pyeongchang- FEBRUARY 22 - Team USA with their medals as Canada loses in a shootout to the United States in the Olympic women's hockey gold medal game at the Gangneung Hockey Centre in Gangneung in Pyeongchang in South Korea. February 22, 2018. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
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Mikaela Shiffrin was set to become a superstar at these Winter Games — planning on competing in five disciplines of alpine skiing with the stated goal of medaling in every event. She got off to a brilliant start, winning gold in the giant slalom, and setting herself up for a second win in the slalom — widely considered her best event.

Unfortunately, a tightened schedule due to repeated weather delays made Shiffrin's workload more difficult. After a shocking performance left her off the podium in the slalom, her coach later announced that she would be dropping out of both the super-G and downhill in order to focus on the combined event.

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Mikaela Shiffrin at the 2018 Olympics
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Mikaela Shiffrin at the 2018 Olympics
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Mikaela Shiffrin of USA reacts during the Alpine Skiing Women's Slalom at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 16, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Giovanni Auletta/Agence Zoom/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 16: Mikaela Shiffrin #4 of the United States is consoled after finishing out of the medals during the Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Slalom competition at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 16, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
USA's Mikaela Shiffrin competes in the 2nd training of the Alpine Skiing Women's Downhill at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 19: Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States makes a run during Alpine Skiing Ladies' Downhill Training on day 10 of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on February 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
USA's Mikaela Shiffrin competes in the Women's Slalom at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - USA' Mikaela Shiffrin competes in the Women's Slalom at the Jeongseon Alpine Center during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 16, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
(L-R) Norway's silver medallist Ragnhild Mowinckel, USA's gold medallist Mikaela Shiffrin and Italy's bronze medallist Federica Brignone pose on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's alpine skiing giant slalom at the Pyeongchang Medals Plaza during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Dimitar DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Mikaela Shiffrin #7 of the United States celebrates at the presentation after winning the gold medal in the Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Giant Slalom competition at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 15, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States stands on stage during the medal ceremony for Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Giant Slalom on day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Medal Plaza on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)
Pyeongchang, Gangwon - FEBRUARY 15 : Mikaela Shiffrin of USA wins the gold medal during the Alpine Skiing Women's Giant Slalom at Yongpyong Alpine Centre February 15, 2018. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States walks through the mix zone after the Ladies' Giant Slalom on day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Mikaela Shiffrin #7 of the United States at the presentation after winning the gold medal in the Alpine Skiing - Ladies' Giant Slalom competition at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 15, 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - USA's winner Mikaela Shiffrin raises the US flag as she poses on the podium during the victory ceremony for the women's Giant Slalom at the Yongpyong Alpine Centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang on February 15, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / JAVIER SORIANO (Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images)
PYEONGCHANG-GUN, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 15: Gold medallist Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States celebrates during the Ladies' Giant Slalom on day six of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Yongpyong Alpine Centre on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Shiffrin isn't the only American superstar to fall short of expectation. Figure skater Nathan Chen was set to become another star of the Winter Olympics, heading into the games as a gold medal favorite at just 18 years old, but falls in both the team event and his first run of singles competition quickly sent his Olympic Games spiraling in the other direction. While he found redemption in an absolutely brilliant final run that included six quads, it wasn't enough to bring him back into medal contention in the singles event.

The United States' disappointing medal count goes beyond its stars though — American athletes have also had a crushing number of finishes just off the podium. According to Sports Illustrated, the U.S. had finished in fourth, fifth, or sixth place a whopping 24 times as of Monday. These were all performances that were one slip, one flip, or one fraction of a second short of adding to the U.S. medal count.

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Nathan Chen falls during Olympic debut
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Nathan Chen falls during Olympic debut
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Nathan Chen of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Nathan Chen of the U.S. competes. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Nathan Chen of the U.S. in action. REUTERS/John Sibley
Figure Skating ? Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics ? Team Event Men Single Skating short program ? Gangneung Ice Arena - Gangneung, South Korea ? February 9, 2018 - Nathan Chen of the U.S. falls. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Nathan Chen of the United States falls while competing in the Figure Skating Team Event - Men's Single Skating Short Program during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 9, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 09: Nathan Chen of the United States falls while competing in the Figure Skating Team Event - Men's Single Skating Short Program during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Ice Arena on February 9, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
USA's Nathan Chen competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
USA's Nathan Chen competes in the figure skating team event men's single skating short program during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at the Gangneung Ice Arena in Gangneung on February 9, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
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Thankfully, there is still time for the United States to turn things around and make a late run at the medal count. While catching Norway is out of the question, the American women have already secured another medal in ice hockey, and the men's team is still in contention for one, as are both curling teams. U.S. athletes are also expected to dominant the new snowboarding big air event slated for the final weekend of the games.

A late surge at the podium could help to save the United States from total Olympic disaster.

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