The speedskating uniforms Under Armour made for the United States team to use at the Sochi Olympics were supposed to be the fastest and best ever developed. As it turns out, they might be the reason the U.S. has been struggling so badly on the ice.
The United States squad hoped to take home a ton of medals, but through six events, no member of the team has finished higher than seventh in any race. Many members on the team have blamed their struggles on the new suits, which they haven’t worn in a major competition before.
The Wall Street journal reports the following:
According the three people familiar with the U.S. team, these suits – which were designed by apparel sponsor Under Armour and billed before the Games as a major advantage – have a design flaw that may be slowing the skaters down. These people said that vents on the back of the suit, designed to allow heat to escape, are allowing air to enter the suit and create drag that keeps the skaters from saying in the “low” position they need to achieve maximum speed. One skater said team members felt they were fighting the suit to maintain correct form.
Several skaters, including 1,000 meter world-record holder Heather Richardson, sent their suits to an Under Armour seamstress Thursday to have the panel modified with an extra piece of rubber. Even after the alteration, Richardson finished seventh – more than a second slower than the winner.
Apparently even skaters and coaches from other teams have agreed that the suits were slowing Team USA down. The Americans refuse to publicly disparage the suits, which could ruin the relationship with their sponsor.
Officials for the U.S. team are reportedly working to get approval to allow the skaters to use the suits they wore during World Cup competition. The previous suits were also designed by Under Armour and were worn during this season on the World Cup circuit. Some team members brought those suits with them to Sochi, but the rest of the team would need theirs delivered if the team gets approval to use them.
The U.S. team’s major mistake seems to have been not testing these suits out in competition before the Olympics.