Celebrate, Russians! Somebody screwed up majorly at Sochi, and for once it wasn’t your corrupt government or incompetent corporations! It was our incompetent corporations! Specifically, Under Armour might have just cost the US speedskating team not just the gold, but the podium completely.
First, a recap: Shani Davis was the odds-on favorite for gold in the men’s speedskating event; instead he came nowhere close. This is a wee bit odd, since by any measure he is one of the best speed skaters in the entire world. And when the women’s team came up short of the podium also, investigations commenced. And it turns out Under Armour might be at fault, according to the Wall Street Journal:
Vents on back of the suit, designed to allow heat to escape, are also allowing air to enter and create drag that keeps skaters from staying in the low position they need to achieve maximum speed, these people said. One skater said team members felt they were fighting the suit to maintain correct form.
Considering that speed skating is a game of microseconds, that’s really, really bad news. It also means that the team is either going to have to go in for an embarrassing beating over the next few days, repair the suits so they don’t cause drag, or switch out to some other tight little unitard number. Hey, we’re sure Johnny Weir will take them, as we’re pretty sure somebody switched his luggage with his mother’s midflight and he’s just been rolling with it.
To Davis’ credit, and to intercept any bitching about American entitlement, he flat-out said that it was his fault he didn’t place, not the suit. And of course, this isn’t to knock the athletics and skill of the competitors who did get medals. Still, Under Armour, maybe next time, actually test the suits.