America’s speed skaters have not finished above seventh place at the 2014 Winter Olympics and on Thursday they complained that their new suits, which they had not used before the Games, could be causing the problems. Now, the team will revert back to their original suits.
Under Armour’s senior vice president of innovation, Kevin Haley, tells The Associated Press that the American team has received permission from the International Skating Union to switch back to its previous suits, starting with the men’s 1,500 meters Saturday.
The Americans said the new suits would help them defeat The Netherlands and achieve fast times. A defense contractor from Lockheed Martin helped develop the new suits. But the vents on the back that were supposed to help may be the problem.
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.
Suits were sent to a seamstress, but nothing has helped. Heather Richardson placed seventh while men’s favorite Shani Davis placed eighth in the 1000m. He does not blame the suit and instead said he blames himself. He will compete in the 1500m on Saturday.
The Netherlands have won the majority of the speedskating events with 12 medals: four gold, three silver and five bronze. The country doubted the ability of the suits.
Bert van der Tuuk said he even tested some of the elements used in the U.S. suit — rivets, seams, bumps and a diagonal zipper to cut down on drag — and found they provided no significant edge.
The United States will use the uniforms they wore in the World Cups and Olympic trials.