UPDATE: U.S. Speedskating gets permission to change suits

1 Comment

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.”

MORE: Hanyu over Chan for men’s figure skating gold; Brown finishes ninth

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.

Justin Morneau nixes Olympic baseball qualifying return

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Justin Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP with the Minnesota Twins, was taken off Canada’s Olympic baseball qualifying roster before he would have played his first competitive game in more than two years.

Morneau, 38, experienced an unspecified setback in training and was replaced on Canada’s roster for next month’s Premier12. The global tournament marks the first opportunity for many world baseball powers to qualify for the sport’s return to the Olympics.

Morneau never played in the Olympics before baseball was cut from the Games after 2008; active MLB players have never competed in the Games. But he was on Canada’s roster at all four World Baseball Classics from 2006 through 2017.

At November’s Premier12, the top nation from North and South America will qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Japan and Israel are already qualified. Those that do not qualify will get another chance next year.

Morneau could become the second Major League Baseball MVP to play Olympic baseball as a medal sport. The other was Jason Giambi, who made the U.S. team in 1992, the same summer he was drafted in the second round by the Oakland Athletics.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Joe Girardi replaced as U.S. baseball manager by World Series champion

Kolohe Andino is first U.S. Olympic surfing qualifier; Kelly Slater faces last chance

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kolohe Andino is the first American to qualify for surfing’s Olympic debut, which leaves one spot left for 47-year-old Kelly Slater to chase at the final contest of the season.

Andino, a 25-year-old Californian whose first name means “rascal” in Hawaiian, clinched his place in Tokyo on Friday at the penultimate stop on the World Surf League Championship Tour in Portugal. He is ranked fifth in the world, trailing a trio of Brazilians.

One more American man will join Andino on the Olympic team. It will be one of Slater, the 11-time world champion, John John Florence, the 2016 and 2017 World champion, and rising 22-year-old Hawaiian Seth Moniz.

Slater was handed a golden opportunity to qualify when Florence announced in early July that he tore an ACL for the second time in 13 months. Florence had won two of the first five events this season.

Slater has been chasing the sidelined Florence in the standings ever since. But it has not been easy.

Slater hasn’t made the quarterfinals in any of his last seven contests going into December’s finale — the prestigious Billabong Pipeline Masters on the North Shore of Oahu.

“Ninth place, to me, used to be a pretty awful result. I’m used to at least a quarterfinal on for most of my career,” he said in July, noting a back injury. “I’m not horrified by my results, but I’m also not surprised. Maybe other people are because everyone focuses on my age and that kind of thing. It’s not like I’m going to all of a sudden forget how to do this thing, you know?”

Slater, who won the Pipe Masters seven times between 1992 and 2013, must reach the quarterfinals at this year’s event to have any chance of passing Florence to qualify for the Olympics.

Complicating matters: Florence said in August it was his “goal to get better for Pipeline in case I have to come back and compete and gain points,” according to ESPN.com. If Florence does return for the December contest, and makes the quarterfinals, Slater could only pass him with a victory.

Moniz goes into the finale ranked one spot behind Slater, meaning he, too, can grab that second and final Olympic spot with a win or a runner-up.

Slater, who turns 48 on Feb. 11, would be the oldest U.S. Summer Olympic rookie competitor in a sport other than equestrian, sailing or shooting (or art competitions!) in the last 100 years, supplanting Martina Navratilova, according to the OlyMADMen.

MORE: Top U.S. surfer has links to Egg McMuffin, Guinness World Record holder

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!