Leading up to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Under Armour announced that it had partnered with aerospace company Lockheed Martin to engineer the "fastest speed skating suit in the world." Now, after USA's dismal showing in speed skating those claims are being questioned.
The Mach-39 US Speedskating Skin has been the controversy of the Olympics so far after no Americans, including two-time Olympic gold medalist Shani Davis and world No. 1 Heather Richardson, have finished above seventh place in any of the six long-track speedskating events.
Prior to the Games, Under Armour said it incorporated its ArmourVent technology for extra breathability and comfort. However, these vents have been accused of slowing skaters down instead. Apparently, the vents are allowing air to enter the suit, which creates a drag that keeps skaters from remaining in the low position needed to reach top speed.
"The Speedskating suits, we think, are the fastest suits that have ever been made," Kevin Haley, Senior Vice President for Innovation for Under Armour, told Sneaker Report. "They are really the pinnacle of innovation when it comes to baselayer. We’ve put two plus years of research and development into these suits with the smartest minds in the world and we think they give our skaters the best chance at Gold in Sochi, so we’re excited."
In an attempt to correct the problem, several skaters added a piece of rubber to the panel in order to cover up the vent. However, the results were no different, as Heather Richardson finished in seventh place last night in the 1,000 meters, almost a full second slower than the winner.
USA Speedskating executive director Ted Morris and Shani Davis are among the people who have said that the suits are not to blame for the USA's lack of results so far. Among the other possible factors are the sea-level altitude conditions in Sochi and the fact that the other countries are improving in the sport. Team USA has six races left in Sochi to try and bring home a medal.