The Under Armour suits worn by Team USA speedskaters have officially been cited as one of the factors that resulted in their less than optimal performances in Sochi during the Winter Olympics.
Ted Morris, executive director of U.S. Speedskating, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel there was no “silver bullet” that led to the team’s disappointing Olympic finishes, but they’re evaluating all factors to be better prepared for PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018.
“Clearly, we had a goal of introducing these quote-unquote secret weapon skinsuits and skate polish as close to the Olympics as possible to give our athletes an advantage at the starting line,” Morris told the newspaper. “That backfired on us, without a doubt. Our athletes did not feel comfortable with the suits or the polish.”
The black-and-silver “Mach 39″suits designed by the athletic clothier Under Armour and defense company Lockheed Martin were touted as the fastest in the world. But midway through the games, athletes changed back to their old suits at the approval of Olympic officials in the hopes of salvaging their performances. Even after the change though, race times didn’t necessarily improve.
Other factors that impacted performance were the amount of traveling the team did shortly before the games and where athletes were sent for training.
“Collalbo, [Italy,] probably was not the right place to go based on the weather conditions,” Morris told the Journal Sentinel. “It was helpful for us from a team-building aspect. …But with the cold weather and the fluctuation in the ice conditions it was not the ideal place to be able to peak from an on-ice standpoint.”
Despite the criticism of the suits, Under Armour went on to sign an eight-year deal with with U.S. Speedskating for uniforms. The company said it is ready to try again in outfitting the U.S. speedskating team for the next two Winter Olympics.
After with the issue in Sochi over the new suits, Morris told the Wall Street Journal that they plan on introducing uniforms to athletes months before competition instead of just before.
The Dutch team, which dominated speedskating this year, had been using new uniforms since October before the games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.