A disappointing Sochi Olympics thus far has caused U.S. Speedskating to ask Olympic and skating officials for the option of switching out of their new Under Armour suits – and UA’s senior vice president of innovation, Kevin Haley, has told the Associated Press that they’ve indeed received that option.
U.S. Speedskating president Mike Plant has issued the following statement on the matter:
“For the remainder of the Winter Olympic Games, Team USA speedskaters will be wearing the previously-approved Under Armour skin suits used during recent World Cup competition. Under Armour provided US Speedskating with three different suit configurations in advance of Sochi, and we 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 Armour’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% confidence so they are positioned to capture a spot on the podium. US Speedskating is proud of its long-term, successful partnership with Under Armour, and we all look forward to the upcoming races.”
Through the first six speedskating events in Sochi, the best result for an American speedskater has been seventh.
The team’s biggest star, Shani Davis, tried his best to keep out of the suit conversation after a training session.
“I’m, uh, honestly being as optimistic as I can possibly be,” said Davis, who finished a surprising eighth in the 1000m, the race he had claimed gold in at Torino in 2006 and Vancouver in 2010.
“I’m just staying focused on the 1500, race. Suit or no suit, I’ve got to go out there and try to win.”
One day after the men’s 1000m, Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe were unable to medal in that distance on the women’s side.
It’s led to a tough environment for the U.S. speedskaters.
“Morale is down right now,” Joey Mantia, a 1500m skater said. “We need to pick that up in the coming races.”
As for their rivals from the Netherlands, who have dominated so far in Sochi, it seems they’re not putting the Americans’ problems down to the suits.
“It could also be that they were just outclassed here,” said men’s 500m winner and 1000m bronze medalist Michel Mulder.