Shani Davis Goes His Own Way, and Controversy Follows

Then he skipped the ceremony and made his Twitter account private. He also did not attend the team’s customary introductory news conference last week.

After his race on Tuesday — he finished 19th out of 35 skaters in the men’s 1500 meters — the closest he got to addressing the controversy was when a reporter asked if the events of the previous week had affected his skating at all.

“Well, I’ve been through a lot worse than what’s going on the past few weeks,” Davis said. “So this didn’t disturb me whatsoever.”

Davis struck a positive tone after his race. He said he thought he was better suited for the 1000 meters and complimented the atmosphere at the Games. He suggested his technique has never been better, but the burst of his younger days has been harder to find.

He may not be expected to win a medal, but as one of the biggest stars in speedskating, he still has the ability to invoke respect and awe in his competitors and teammates.

To grasp his influence on the generation of athletes making their mark now at the Games, one only needs to comb through the official athlete biographies, which give competitors here a chance to list their personal heroes. Davis was named by a disparate collection of skaters including Takuro Oda, 25, of Japan; Haavard Lorentzen, 25, of Norway; Ekaterina Konstantinova, 22, of Russia; and several of his younger American teammates.

Kimani Griffin, 27, a long-track skater from Winton-Salem, N.C., was 13 or 14 years old when he first met Davis at a short-track competition in Ohio. Griffin guessed Davis would not remember the interaction. But it had a big impact on Griffin as a young skater.

“I think I had a big Afro, and he had a big Afro back then,” Griffin said with a laugh.

As Griffin spent more time around Davis, his respect for him grew. In a sport that has struggled with diversity in the United States,…

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