The Sochi Report: US Speedskaters Ditch Their Hi-Tech Suits, But To No Luck


/ February 15, 2014

The U.S. speedskating team has ditched their high-tech suits midway through the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Designed by Lockheed Martin engineers — the same guys who build fighter jets — and the folks at Under Armour, the suits were being blamed for America’s inability to medal at events dominated by the U.S. speedskating team in the past.

Both gold-medal favorites Shani Davis and Heather Richardson failed to place higher than seventh place after six long-track speed skating events at Sochi. Davis won the 1,000 meters race at both the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics in Torino and Vancouver, respectfully. He currently holds the world record in the event with a time of 1 minute, 6.42 seconds, and has the fastest time in the 1,000 meters in the current ISU Speedskating World Cup (1:06.88).

Called the Mach 39, the ditched suits are considered “the fastest speedskating suit in the world,” but it was believed that the vents on the back of the suit — made to help heat escape — were letting air in and holding the skaters back. After a long meeting on Friday (Feb. 14), the U.S. speedskating team decided to appeal their choice of suit to the IOC and International Skating Union. The appeal was granted.

“For the remainder of the Winter Olympic Games, Team USA speedskaters will be wearing the previously-approved Under Armour skin suits used during recent World Cup competition,” U.S. Speedskating President Mike Plant said in a statement.

With his old suit back on Davis attempted to go for gold again on Saturday in the 1,500 meters race, but to no avail. Davis finished 11th with a time of 1:45.98.

Looks like it wasn’t the suit.