Last week, we heard the problems most U.S Speedskaters were having regarding the specially designed Mach 39 suit from Under Armour. The biggest problem skaters were having was with the inclusion of ArmourVent technology, which was designed to increase breathability and comfort, but when used, created a drag thus slowing down the skaters and keeping them from reaching a top speed.
On Saturday, the U.S team swapped out their Under Armour suits for the 1,500 Meter event, but to no avail as the U.S finished 11th and failed to medal at all in the Speed skating discipline. Under Armour finds themselves in a tough spot, as the Mach 39 suit was said to be “the fastest speed skating suit in the world”, but instead is being criticized and blamed by the athletes it was designed to propel to the top of the podium.
Shani Davis, four time Olympic medalist, including two gold in the 1,000 Meter said, “It almost sucked all the life out of me. I know in my heart that I’m the king of the 1,000. And then I come to the line and I’m eighth… We would have to test the suit to see if it really made that big of a difference.”
Under Armour is sticking by the Mach 39, saying they are confident in their technology and that the suit was extensively tested and adjusted prior to the Olympics.
Many athletes, including Davis, are upset with Under Armour as they did not receive the Mach 39 suit until the Olympics began and didn’t have a chance to skate with them in World Cup or other qualifying events.
“You can’t do that at the Olympics,” Davis said. “There’s too much riding on it. Too many things are a factor. You can’t do that.”
U.S Olympic Committee CEO, Scott Blackmun issued the following statement.
“Given our history of strong performances in speedskating, we are disappointed not to have had a podium finish to date in Sochi. After the Games, we will work side by side with US Speedskating to understand how we might better support our athletes, many of whom have already proven themselves to be great champions. We are grateful to Under Armour and Lockheed Martin for their support of our national federation. While we will leave no stone unturned when we analyze Sochi results, based on current information, we do not believe the suits were the problem. We believe in innovation and it is only through the generosity of US Speedskating partners like Under Armour and Lockheed Martin that a sport like speedskating can innovate.”
With the Olympics winding down, the U.S still has a few chances to medal in Speed skating with the Women’s 5000 Meter and the Men’s and Women’s Team Pursuit, which begins February 19 and 21, respectively.