UA Developing High-Tech Speedskating Suit, Eyes Sochi As Global Marketing Opportunity
Under Armour and Maryland-based Lockheed Martin have "poured millions of dollars into a project targeted at making a big splash at the Winter Olympics in February: a speedskating suit that is more aerodynamic than any the sport has seen," according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. No photos have been released of the project being worked on in "extreme secrecy," but "like recent Olympic speedskating uniforms, it’s dark and skin-tight." The biggest changes are in the "smallest details," as project engineers "settled on a suit that utilizes five fabrics, each with its own function and purpose." The air vent on the spine "allows the body to release heat," while slick fabric on the inner thigh "cuts down on friction as the skater crosses his legs on turns." The new suits will "surely be likened to the full-body swimsuits, which increased buoyancy and helped shatter records before they were banned" in '09. However, the UA speedskating technology is "more akin to changes made to the javelin a quarter century ago." A key difference between the swimsuit and speedskating technologies, "at least for manufacturers," is that there was "a natural marketplace for the swimsuits." UA officials knew they were not prepping the speedskating apparel to "be mass-produced and stocked on Walmart shelves," as the target audience is "elite, world-class competitors." Still, there "could still be a measurable upside, a win that transcends the medal podium in Sochi." UA COO Kip Fulks said that the company's heritage is "in tight-fitting compression shirts and officials see the speedskating suit as a natural extension." The Olympics "provide an important platform to spread the company's growing brand across a global marketplace" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/25).