U.S. Olympic Speedskaters Look To Change Suits From New Under Armour Version


Shani DavisUnder Armour’s flashy new speedskating suits are more like over-armor.

The Mach 39? If they mean 39 miles per hour in a sport that’s going 100, sure.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin might have helped develop Under Armour, but it looks like Olympic athletes need a company that specializes in offense.

All jokes aside, the U.S. Olympic speedskating team is in a bit of a panic, and it’s moving to replace its much-vaunted new racing suits to try to help its skaters before it’s too late.

The U.S., which came in with strong chances — especially with 1,000-meter favorite Shani Davis — has failed to medal in speedskating events so far in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The team is using a special suit designed by Under Armour called the Mach 39 that is supposed to add speed, but after the poor results, the Americans are looking to switch to their old suits for the rest of the games.

The U.S. is working to get approval to wear the skin suits the team used in World Cup competition, the Baltimore Sun reports. Efforts already have been made to adjust parts of the current suits, such as covering a mesh area on the back of the neck. The mesh was meant to help vent skaters’ body heat, but team members worry it is creating drag, according to the Sun.

The World Cup suits also were made by Under Armour, but they’re a different design.

“If the entire U.S. team is underperforming compared to our potential — literally everyone — you can only look at so many factors,” 500- and 1,000-meter skater Brian Hansen said. “Is it the suit? Is it our preparation? The suit’s the easiest thing to fix.”

U.S. Speed Skating executive director Ted Morris emphasized that many factors go into how athletes perform, and the team is working with trainers and coaches as well as Under Armour with six events remaining. Under Armour senior vice president Kevin Haley said the suits have been “rigorously tested” and that the company expects results to turn around.

While the U.S. team has been underwhelming across the board, perhaps the biggest surprise was the poor finish of Davis in the 1,000. Davis came in having won gold in the event in the last two Winter Olympics and held the top ranking in the world. On Wednesday, he finished eighth.

No American speedskater has finished better than seventh. The U.S. last failed to medal in speedskating in 1984.

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