The U.S. Olympic speed skating team put together its worst performance in 30 years at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, and even the squad’s top contenders failed to medal. The skaters blamed new Under Armour suits for their slow times, and after an internal assessment, it appears they did contribute to the team’s poor showing, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The biggest issue with the suits was the fact that they were introduced to the team so late, and U.S. Speedskating decided not to try them out in competition before the Olympics, executive director Ted Morris said.
“The idea that we would give these game-changers to our athletes right before the Olympics and they would get to the line and feel like they had an advantage, that did not work,” Morris said. “The lesson there is that if we have game-changers like that, let’s introduce them in December, not February.”
During the games, the team opted to switch back to an older model of the suits, but it still didn’t see much success.
The team’s pre-Olympics training regime also likely contributed to the lack of success, Morris said. The skaters trained at high altitude and outdoors in Italy ahead of the games, which were indoors and at sea level. Morris also said the team hadn’t collected and analyzed enough data before the Olympics to realize the skaters wouldn’t peak in Sochi.
“When you go back and look at those performance trends, our expectations going into Sochi were not realistic,” Morris said. “The idea that we were going to go there and win eight, 10, 12 medals in long-track alone was way off.”
The team’s performance picked up after the Olympics when America’s top skaters returned to the World Cup circuit.
Photo via Twitter/@SochiNYT