Two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis of Chicago has pulled out of the first speedskating World Cup of the season with a groin injury, according to media reports and tweets from his Dutch coach, Ingrid Paul.
Davis likely would have competed in both the 1,000 and 1,500-meter races Saturday and Sunday at his favorite venue, the Thialf oval in Heerenveen, Holland. According to Paul, he withdrew after undergoing an MRI.
“Shani Davis wants to show how fast he is, but because of a groin pull he can not at this moment,” Paul tweeted. “He has to be careful and patient.”
Davis, 30, has been remarkably injury-free during a long career in which he has become one of the most decorated skaters in U.S. history, winning two Olympic golds and two silvers and joining Eric Heiden as the only men to win world sprint and all-around titles.
In Friday’s action, 16-year-old Emery Lehman of Oak Park had a rocky World Cup debut, finishing next-to-last in the 5,000 meters with a time 10 seconds slower than the personal best he had clocked to qualify for the U.S. World Cup team.
“I'm not sure (what happened),” Lehman said in an email. “I don't want to make any excuses but I did feel a tad tired going into the race, and I think I just started off too fast.”
There was some good news for the U.S. team: Heather Richardson of High Point, N.C., finished second in Friday’s 500 meters, her best World Cup finish at the distance since another second in 2009.