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Olympics: Disappointing U.S. to look at itself, and others, for answers

By Ossian Shine

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) - Having fallen way short of their Olympic medal target, the U.S. team said on Sunday it would take a hard look at what went wrong in South Korea, and a long look at who fared well.

With only a couple of events to go, the U.S. tally of 23 was way short of the 37 they had targeted, and represents their worst showing in 20 years.

Not since their 13 medals at Nagano in 1998 had a U.S. team left a Games with such slim pickings.

Their 23 here, including nine golds, saw the United States in fourth place in the standings at the beginning of the final day, behind Norway, Germany and Canada.

"Yeah, you know we always want to do better and I want them to do better because I want that to be a reflection of what they're capable of because it's an amazing team," said U.S. chef de mission Alan Ashley.

"We're going to look at the other countries, (and ask), 'What are they doing?'. One of the things I'm curious about is that Norway had a runaway success here and they really did a great job preparing their athletes and I really admire them for that.

"I admire their athletes as well. I want to find out some things about what they're up to.

"I really want to sit down and get the feedback from the athletes about what sort of things they see in the field in the preparation of their competitors so we can learn from that and focus on some of those things, whether that's in the areas of coaching, better training, better technology and innovation, more competition opportunities.

"You've just got to look at all those things as you go into this."

Seeking a silver lining, Ashley pointed to the U.S. team's depth, and what that means for the future.

"I'm actually more encouraged now than I've ever been," he said. "Even though people can say 'well, you know, you didn't hit your medal count, you didn't get to the right level', look at the depth of our team.

"Look at the number of individuals who were, like, fourth through sixth. I mean we had 35 individuals that were four through six, we had some incredibly close calls.

"I want to basically look at this and say this is an opportunity for us. We have this amazing depth, we have these incredible medalists and how do we basically continue to compete at an even higher level and give them what they need going forward."

(Editing by: Peter Rutherford)