Heralded as “the world’s fastest speed skating suit,” Under Armour’s all-in-one was hoped to give US athletes the edge in Sochi. Now, though, it appears it could in fact be slowing them down.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to three people familiar with the US team, the suit has a major design flaw that slows the skaters down. It seems that vents on rear of the suit, put in place to allow heat to escape, actually allow air to enter — in turn creating drag. That keeps the skaters a little more upright than usual, meaning they can’t quite reach maximum speed.
The Journal says that one skater claimed that team members “felt they were fighting the suit to maintain correct form.” Certainly, results so far could be an indicator that the suit isn’t working out: gold-medal favourite Shani Davis failed to make the podium, the women’s 1000m race was a disaster, and, as of Thursday night, no American has finished better than seventh place in any long-track speedskating event.
Fortunately, six long-track events remain, and Under Armour plans to “move heaven and earth to make [the suits] better” in the meantime. Indeed, several skaters have already sent their suits back to Under Armour to have the offending rear panel modified with an extra piece of rubber. Let’s hope that does the trick. [Wall Street Journal via Deadspin]