It turns out that Under Armour uniforms used by the highly-touted U.S. speedskating team are one of several reasons for their dire results at the Sochi Olympics this year. According to a new report commissioned by the team, the high altitude and outdoor conditions in Italy, where the athletes trained, contributed to the disappointing results, as well as demanding travel plans and a lack of data analysis, which supposedly could have predicted the poor performances earlier.
As Joshua Robinson and Sarah Germano report in The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. speedskating team commissioned a report following widely-reported team frustration over the uniforms, which featured an apparent design flaw that slowed skaters down. The Under Armour Mach 39 suits, dubbed “the fastest speed skating suit in the world," were introduced too late, and athletes didn't have enough time to train in them. While the team switched out to an older suit model mid-Olympics, they still failed to medal for the first time in 30 years.
Ted Morris, executive director of U.S. Speedskating, also said that the team incorrectly decided to introduce a skate polish just before the games. "The idea that we would give these game-changers to our athletes right before the Olympics and they would get to the line and feel like they had an advantage, that did not work," Morris said. "The lesson there is that if we have game-changers like that, let's introduce them in December, not February."