Under Armour was seizing the opportunity to really brand their company internationally, and what better opportunity than the Olympics. Nike has outfitted all Olympians when they medal. As soon as they take the medal stand, you can take note of at least 4 or 5 different Swooshes emblazoned on each athlete. Polo Ralph Lauren takes the opening ceremonies to the next level every year with another design that makes something as simple as mittens fly off of the shelves. So UA, presented with the opportunity to win a few medals at the Olympics for the US, attempted to revolutionize speed. When it comes to speed, there is one athletic company that has almost taken the word over for themselves: Nike. "Speed Unleased," "____ Knows Speed," "Oregon is faster" etc, etc. Nike deals with fast sports, but Speed Skating is one of the fastest. Below you can see the diagram UA released prior to the games.
Most races, due to the impressive elite performance of each skater, are decided by intervals less than a half a second. So that is essentially UA's main goal. How do we shave off a half a second? Truth is, that's probably impossible. It's not like US Speed Skaters were wearing skinny jeans and a t shirt in prior events.
The little polyurethane bumps were designed to break up the air flow, which may seem to you the reader, as a negative thing. Nearly all suits prior to this one have been completely smooth. So why the change? Because a wind tunnel test said it would be faster. In all fairness, UA did all of the right tests, fittings, and research they needed to do in order to design this suit, but it was on the US team to at least wear it and compete in it before the games. It's like a baseball player getting a new bat, never taking BP with it, then going up and striking out and blaming the bat. Yep, it's the bat's fault. As you have probably read before in other articles about this, or heard on NBC these past two weeks, it may actually be just that the US skaters are slower than their competition.
Four years ago in Vancouver, the USA placed for a medal 4 times. 1 G, 2 S, and 1 B. This year in Sochi? Nothing. Zero. None. When the US even switched back to the suits they used in the most recent World Championships, still 0. Psychologically speaking, blaming the suits is an easy thing to fall back on. If everything else I do is the same, it must be this suit. Lets look at the leaders for speed skating this time around in Sochi. The Netherlands have 21 medals in speed skating this year. TWENTY ONE. Their outfitter? A small Swedish company neither you nor I have ever heard of: Craft. Craft specializes in sports that you only watch once every 4 years. They make speed skating suits, downhill skiing suits, and even cyclist jerseys. It's a small niche, but they're doing something right. Outfitting the Dutch, winning 21 medals, 6 of them gold is huge for such a small company. They may not be small for too much longer though, as many athletes may now turn away from UA if possible and move to a more proven winning combination.
Basically, it is not UA's fault. It may not necessarily be the US speed skating team's fault either, but when you don't produce, a finger needs to be pointed. Unfortunately for UA's its been directed at them, but as more and more information comes out about this controversy, maybe the US Olympic team just wasn't prepared enough to compete against the likes of the Dutch, who must do nothing but speed skate every where they go.
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