SBD/May 2, 2014/Olympics

U.S. Speedskating: Not Enough Time With UA Suits One Reason For Sochi Results

Under Armour and U.S. Speedskating renewed their deal through '22
A "comprehensive review" of U.S. Speedskating's preperation prior to the Sochi Gmaes found the team had "too much travel, too much training at high altitude, overly optimistic expectations and not enough time" in their new Under Armour racing suits, according to Kelly Whiteside of USA TODAY. The design of the suits came under criticism during the Olympics, but U.S. Speedskating Exec Dir Ted Morris said that the technology "wasn't the issue." The athletes "simply weren't comfortable racing in a suit without prior experience." Morris said that the suits "as well as a new skate polishing system were kept secret to give the team an advantage in Sochi." Whiteside noted the plan "turned out to be a disadvantage; the skaters were unfamiliar with such key equipment." UA and U.S. Speedskating renewed their partnership through the '22 Games before the end of the Games, and the UA "will design this season's suits." Morris said, "We're looking at that right now, using some if not all of the technology that was in the Mach 39 in our suits moving forward. ... We need to build a suit that works at both altitude and sea level." He added that exhaustive travel "was identified as the most significant factor in the team's struggles." Whiteside noted the team "went from its base in Salt Lake City to Japan for the World Sprints, then to Collalbo, Italy, for a training camp at altitude on an outdoor rink and finally to Sochi." Once in Sochi, skaters "competed indoors and at sea level." Morris: "When we get that close, we need to train in as similar conditions as possible" (USATODAY.com, 5/1).

HINDSIGHT IS 20/20: Morris said there was "no silver bullet" for the poor results in Sochi, which saw the team leave without a medal, but noted there were "several factors that led to our lack of performance." Morris: "The good news is that in identifying them we can put together a really good plan for Korea (2018 Winter Games)." He addeed, "Clearly, we had a goal of introducing these quote-unquote secret weapon skin suits and skate polish as close to the Olympics as possible to give our athletes an advantage at the starting line. That backfired on us, without a doubt. Our athletes did not feel comfortable with the suits or the polish" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 5/2). More Morris: "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. The lesson there is that if we have game-changers like that, let's introduce them in December, not February" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/2).
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