Posted February 13, 2014

Report: Under Armour suits may be contributing to American speedskating troubles

More Sports
A gold medal favorite, Shani Davis has disappointed so far in Sochi. (Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT)

A gold medal favorite, Shani Davis has disappointed so far in Sochi. (Mark Reis/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT)

New high-tech suits designed by Under Armour specifically for the Olympics may be a factor in the U.S. speedskating team’s disappointing performances at the Olympics, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Shani Davis was widely expected to contend for a gold medal in the men’s 1,000 meters, but he instead finished eighth in Wednesday’s contest. Meanwhile, no American woman medaled in the women’s 1,000. There have been six events through Thursday, and Americans have not finished higher than seventh place in any of them.

According to the report, U.S. speedskating officials and coaches have tried to determine the cause of these failures, and sources close to the team told the Wall Street Journal that the Under Armour suits worn by American competitors could be to blame.

The new suits, designed specifically for these Olympics, are suspected of slowing down speedskaters through a glitch in design. From the WSJ: 

According to three people familiar with the U.S. team, these suits—which were designed by apparel sponsor Under Armour and billed before the Games as a major advantage—have a design flaw that may be slowing the skaters down. These people said that vents on back of the suit, designed to allow heat to escape, are allowing air to enter the suit and create drag that keeps the skaters from staying in the “low” position they need to achieve maximum speed. One skater said team members felt they were fighting the suit to maintain correct form.

Davis stressed after his race that he preferred not to blame the suit for his failures.

“I would like to think that it’s not the suit,” said two-time gold medalist Shani Davis, who finished eighth in the 1,000 despite dominating this season’s World Cup circuit. “I would never blame the suit. I’d much rather blame myself. I just wasn’t able to do it today, but other people were.”

Under Armour’s design for the suits came from an intricate analysis of speedskating science and dynamics. The result was the “Mach 39″ suit, which promised to be the fastest suit ever.

The Baltimore-based apparel company partnered with advanced technology and defense firm Lockheed Martin to create a uniform that involves five different textiles, all of which have a different purpose, such as lessening friction. Overall, engineers of the suit wanted to focus on the aerodynamics of the entire body, first analyzing how air interacted with the body and using that data to develop a technologically advanced, physics-driven design.

Under Armour’s contract with U.S. speedskating is set to expire at the conclusion of the Sochi Games.

NEWCOMB: U.S. Speedskating finds edge with high-tech engineered Under Armour Mach 39 skins


110 comments
Hussman
Hussman

One mantra of triathletes is 'nothing new on race day.'  Why are they trying a new suit during the Olympics?  

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

Did they really need to have it "designed to allow heat to escape" when you're not really creating a lot of heat in a winter sport?  Body heat in this case keeps your muscles warm.  I can see if it's past the 1,500m where that might be an issue....but #FAIL UA and Lockheed!

audaxrex
audaxrex

I take it you can skate faster and that your butt is wonderful?

williammozdzier
williammozdzier

He was one of the worst skaters I've ever seen - even with the sound turned down I could barely stand watching him. It must be those big butts. They just aren't made for skating.

EileenFinninHargrove
EileenFinninHargrove

Blame is on the suits. Heck, blame it on Bush. Certainly don't take responsibility and consider maybe, just maybe the other teams skated better and faster. Ugh! The era of blame!

WilliamNorvell
WilliamNorvell

Are you guys kidding? take the blame yourself, your teaching the youth to blame everything or everyone else for your problems.  

sdcausa
sdcausa

I'm just an amateur runner but one of the steadfast rules most runners adhere to is "Nothing new on race day." I cannot believe that the Olympic team would have created brand new suits that were made only for the olympics and had never tested them or debugged the issues prior to the games. If they did that, they pretty much deserve to lose. You don;t change ANYTHING: sportswear, workout routine, sleep schedule, food, hydration, ANYTHING after training and prior to competition. It really doesn't get any simpler than that. If they did, they reap what the sow.

William Penn
William Penn

If this excuse fails, go with climate change.

JimWisdom
JimWisdom

It is unbelievable to me that people will write the garbage that they do online. As an ex-school teacher for the decade of the 70's it saddens me to think our educational system may have failed so miserably.


First, Shani Davis is a world class athlete in a sport that has been long dominated by the Dutch with the Koreans on their heels. Speed skating is to the Dutch as football is to Americans - it is their national sport. All these fine athletes - Americans and non-Americans alike - train for thousands of hours for 1 chance every 4 years. I wonder how many people spouting their venom here can claim the same. If an athlete is on that day, great; if not, so be it. It must be extremely disappointing and hurtful to them to spend so much time hoping to grab the golden ring only to fail. 


Had they missed by hundreds of a second then you could think about whether or not the suit contributed. In a sport where speed, technique and strength of will provide the best chances to win every athlete wants to maximize their potential to achieve crowning glory. Using science as part of a winning formula has and is undoubtedly part of all sports, especially in the 21rst century. But as Shani himself admitted - it wasn't his day. And not Bode Miller's or Ted Ligeti's. None of them look for excuses. Believe me no one more than them wants to represent themselves and their country proudly.


Such is the triumph of victory and the agony of defeat.

bstflyguy
bstflyguy

I know EXACTLY why the US is having such a miserable Olympics...but you liberals would scream your typical wild-eyed slander if I spoke the truth: Our "men" in particular have failed horribly; alpine skiing, short-track skating, even some of the trick events (halfpipe snowboarding - which we invented).

While it’s true that we swept in the new “sport” of slopestyle skiing (i.e., skateboarding tricks on skis. A circus act.) …the TRUTH is, we “invented” that event because we generally can’t compete with the Euros in REAL skiing. And the bigger truth is…by the next Olympics, we’ll be off the podium in THAT event, too.

What the h#ll...I'll say it anyway. In America, libs (i.e., feminists and homosexuals in the media) have made manhood a crime. (I didn't make this up: read "The WAR AGAINST BOYS: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men" by Christina Sommers) Aggressiveness, fortitude, individuality...all hallmarks of manhood, all the subject of lib derision. Even gay-feminist Camille Paglia has documented the war on hetersexual males in America.

We have become a nation obsessed by the sex habits of 3% of the population. (Not a day has gone by where Yahoo hasn't pushed a pro-gay story; this week's Sports Illustrated features the story of an out-of-the-closet black homosexual; Jon Stewart's rant last night was entirely P.C.-chic and entirely pro-gay.) Just watch the prime-time television commercials. "Womyn" are portrayed as brave, fearless, indominable. Caucasian heterosexual males are portrayed as feckless, mindless stooges. We ARE treated, however, to Chevrolet's pro-gay car campaign...

NBC and the ever-hip gun-hating Bob Costas/Matt Lauer treat us to a series of soft-focus “human interest” features about brave, strong, American “womyn” athletes who overcome great obstacles…yet tell very few tales of Caucasian heterosexual male athletes who simply work hard to succeed.

In other words, we’ve become a nation of obese angry middle-aged divorced females (the ones who hang on Ellen’s every word) where Caucasian, heterosexual males are the enemy and the source of all evil.Manhood is bad. Feminism and homosexuality are good. America is a bully and should be brought down to size.

Hence, the traits necessary to win at the Olympic level--the traits necessary to be a great industrial/economic/military power are being intentionally sapped from within.

Oh, I'm certain that you falsetto-voiced quasi-male twenty-somethings (with a shelf full of self-esteem trophies) will eye-roll in disgust (but you have your OWN daddy issues, don't you, Skippy?) … the truth is....America is on the decline and we're our own executioners.

odysseus660
odysseus660

Phony baloney. Typical sore losers. This what happens when kids learn to win and win. In a football team a winner for 1st place and last place. A winner for trying, a winner for the water boy, a winner for the kid that got hurt in practice. Blah, blah, blah, a wimpy American society

AlisonMilne
AlisonMilne

So what are the USA skater times in practice?  Is the team actually saying that the skaters have never worn the suits before the Olympics to test them out?  This is so ridiculous as to be unbelievable.

Count Yob
Count Yob

Are they saying they waited until the Olympics to let the U.S. team give these suits a field test? 

williammozdzier
williammozdzier

As soon as I saw there was a black skater I hit the mute button fast. You know how the media go all crazy any time they have a chance at some Liberal minority worship. I did watch the race though. He was lousy and deserved to lose. Affirmative Action has no place in sports.

IambcPentamastr
IambcPentamastr

Why not blame Bush?


After all, it's much easier than taking any personal responsibility.


Right, Mr. President?

DaveK913
DaveK913

It also looks as though they're not quit as snug fitting as suits I've seen in the past. Wrinkles and such would affect performance as well.

R.j.Coronado
R.j.Coronado

WTF?!? Is this the Average Joe ' Dodgeball team? They didn't have these suits before they got there?

JackBootedThug
JackBootedThug

I think we need to outfit our speedskaters with Dutch outfits.

ChiliBoots
ChiliBoots

It's probably the laces; Tonya H. had the same problem.

ClemKadiddlehopper
ClemKadiddlehopper

Yeah right it is the suits,  never mind the moron wearing it. This is classic, "My dog ate my homework "

eaaron46
eaaron46

The progressive answer to all problems??? mo obamamoney! we need mo money! and we could do better. It is the Republicans who shut down the gov. and the sequester that made everything dysfunctional. 

MichaelMaher
MichaelMaher

the americans are soft. they are waiting for obama or mommy and daddy to help them.

they will all come back and claim ptsd for handouts.

hedge685
hedge685

If so, easily fixed with duck tape.....

x72
x72

Under Armour is the modern day Karl Kani.

williammozdzier
williammozdzier

The Dutchman kicked his butt so now he's crying like a baby.

dlivings89
dlivings89

No one noticed the little drogue chute hanging off the back before the race started?

KurtFrommd
KurtFrommd

Now that's a pretty lousy excuse. Perhaps the other athletes were just better.

JamesScott1
JamesScott1

So one one tried them before hand I am guessing? Everyone knows you go to a big event like the Olympics without actually testing the equipment you plan to use before hand right?

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

@williammozdzier  What a DOOFUS!  If you've watched speed skating, really any skaters, they all have larger than average posteriors.  Stick to watching poker!

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

@JimWisdom  Koreans are very good at short track not this version.  They have athletes who do well but there are nowhere near the class of the Dutch.

yeahjeets88
yeahjeets88

@bstflyguy  - man, you are crazy...this article is about speed skating and you decided to post an eight paragraph post (which reads like a rant from a drunken uncle on Christmas eve) about...I'm not even sure what its about. It's pretty clear you are insecure about your manhood. You should probably do something about it instead of posting this crap on articles about FREAKIN SPEEDSKATING. You are a weird guy.

stabmasterarson21
stabmasterarson21

@williammozdzier  You must be from #PlanetDoofy, mister.  Davis is a multiple World Champion and 2-time Gold Medalist and 2-time Silver Medalist in the Olympics.  Why don't you take your tired AmeriKKKa act to Planet Doofy!

BradPConnelly
BradPConnelly

@williammozdzier Maybe you should have read the article before spewing your racism.  The black man is the only one that wasn't making excuses and took full responsibility for not performing up to par, while the rest of his "non-black" teammates are blaming the suits for their lousy performance.

Chris8
Chris8

@williammozdzier He's not the one crying.  It's the American people (or more specifically the American sports media) who decided the U.S. was already going to win gold in everything that are crying.  He said that he just didn't skate well.

It's everyone else that's trying to find some other explanation because they can't seem to accept the outcome.

jfvanv
jfvanv

@JamesScott1 This is the reliance on technology. The data says it will work, so why test on a human.