Sochi 2014 Olympics: U.S. Speedskaters Change Suits

After failing to at least cop a top-five finish in the first six speedskating events at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, the Americans have decided to change their suits to the earlier versions manufactured by Under Armour.

Feb 16 2014, 7:33pm CST | by

Sochi 2014 Olympics: U.S. Speedskaters Change Suits
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The United States speedskating team has decided to change its suits for the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

According to a Feb. 15 ESPN update, the team members will now sport an earlier version of a suit made by Under Armour: 

"Frustrated by their failure to win a medal in speedskating, a sport that produced four U.S. medals four years ago, the Americans have changed their suits.

"The team ditched the suits it wore in the first six events in Sochi -- in which no American finished among the top five -- and will wear earlier versions made by the same manufacturer, Under Armour. 

"The suits the Americans now will use are the same ones they wore at last month's World Cup in Japan. They are different from the newer suits in that they don't have venting in the back or the flow molding meant to give skaters an advantage by helping their bodies better cut through the air. 

"The International Olympic Committee has approved the U.S. team's request to wear the older Under Armour suits. 

"Ted Morris, the executive director of U.S. team's request to wear the older Under Armour suits." 

Mike Plant, president of U.S. Speedskating, told ESPN via a statement his organization is happy with its current collaboration with Under Armour.

"Under Armour provided U.S. Speedskating with three different suit configurations in advance of Sochi, and we will have full confidence in the performance benefits of each of them. We are constantly evaluating all aspects of race preparation and execution to help our athletes improve their output and maximize their physical and psychological advantages. 

"Under Armou's mission is to make all athletes better, and they are working tirelessly with Team USA to ensure each athlete steps on the ice with 100 percent confidence so they are positioned to capture a spot on the podium. U.S. Speedskating is proud of its long-term, successful partnership with Under Armour, and we all look forward to the upcoming races."

The suit which the U.S. speedskating team previously wore at the Sochi 2014 Olympics was known as the "Mach 39." It "came under heavy scrutiny for perceived design flaws, notably a mesh of fabric on the back that skaters worried was creating excess drag," per USA Today Sports' Paul Myerberg. 

One American skater, Heather Richardson, told Myerberg the mesh panel of the "Mach 39" didn't really do anything to give her an advantage during Olympic competition. She said,"They did adjust one part on the back, but it was just putting rubber over the mesh there. It had no effect, really."

Kevin Haley, Under Armour's vice president for innovation, also confirmed to Myerberg the company has designed three suits for the American contingent to Sochi. He also said the American team is happy with the third rendition, which they have had success with in the past. 

"We're happy to make the skaters as confident as they can be by letting them use whatever suit they want.

"It's a suit (the third one) that we have total confidence in. They've performed well in it in the past.

"When you're dealing with the margins that you're dealing with, it's more important to put the skater in a suit that the skater feels comfortable in and confident in. We're confident that all of the suits have shown the ability for athletes to skate fast in them."

Team USA can only hope their latest suits can turn their fortunes around. 

Paul Newberry of The Associated Press reports on Feb. 14 it's the Netherlands which has dominated the speedskating competition in Sochi so far -- they have won 12 of a possible 18 medals. This also includes four gold medals. 

Newberry notes the United States has not placed higher than seventh. He labeled Richardson and Brittany Bowe as "major disappointments."

Joey Mantia, who races in the 1,500-m. speedskating event, summed it up best when he said,"Morale is down right now."


Poch de la Rosa follows all major U.S. sports: NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and the NCAA. His favorite teams are the Colts, Braves, Pacers, Sharks and Irish, respectively.


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