"They did adjust one part on the back, but it was just putting rubber over the mesh there," she said after a hugely disappointing performance in the 1,000, a race she dominated during the World Cup season. "It had no effect, really."
Davis was a two-time Olympic champion in the men's 1,000 and looking to become the first male speedskater to win the same event at three straight games. His eighth-place showing Wednesday was the first indication that something might be seriously wrong with the U.S. team's preparation.
Then, on Thursday, Richardson finished seventh and Bowe eighth over the same distance for the women, a stunning result given Richardson had won three World Cup events this season and Bowe took the other with a world-record time.
Next up is the men's 1,500. Davis is a two-time silver medalist in that race, but no one seems like a sure thing anymore.
"I'm optimistic," Davis said, trying to muster a smile after a workout Friday. "I didn't come all this way to start having doubts. I trained really hard. I'm focused. I'm feeling good. I'm going to go out there and do the best I can. That's all I can do."
When it came to the suits, he was more guarded with his words, sidestepping whether he would switch back to the old suit if allowed.
I'm, uh, honestly being as optimistic as I can possibly be," he said. "I'm just staying focused on the 1,500-meter race. Suit or no suit, I've got to go out there and try to win. That's what I'm going to do."
(Read more: How to train like an Olympian)
As a U.S. Speedskating media official tried to hustle Davis out of the mixed zone, he stopped to answer another question.
"It's not their fault," he told the official, indicating he didn't mind the reporters' questions on the suits, which clearly have become a major issue within the team.
Carpenter scoffed at the notion that the suits are the only reason for the American struggles.
"The human factor is by far the largest piece out there," he said. "There's not athlete out there who is slowing down a second per lap because of the suit they're in. What is it: a parachute on their back? There are guys out there in low-technology suits. The Germans are out there ... in mostly Lycra suits with some rubber, and they're wiping us all over the place."
While the Americans haven't come close to the podium, the Dutch have captured 12 of 18 speedskating medals, including four golds.
"It could also be," said Michel Mulder, who led a Dutch sweep of the medals in the men's 500, "that they were just outclassed here."
—By The Associated Press