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Olympic Long Track Speed Skating

Reports: U.S. speedskating reverting to older uniforms

Photo: Matt Dunham/AP

U.S. speedskater Shani Davis has under-performed compared to his lofty expectations in Sochi.

Amid speculation that poor performance by American speedskaters in Sochi might be linked to the team’s new uniforms, U.S. Speedskating will request to revert back to old uniforms for remaining competition, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell and the Wall Street Journal.

The proposed swap, which must be approved by the IOC, comes a day after the Wall Street Journal first reported that the team’s new Under Armour suits might be to blame for the U.S. delegation’s failures at the Games. No American speedskater medaled or even placed in the top five in any of the first six events, even though Americans were expected to perform well.

An earlier version of the ESPN story stated that the team was changing its suits, but the story has since been changed to reflect the fact that U.S. Speedskating has only requested to change its suits for remaining competitions.

From Rovell’s report:

The team will ditch the suits it wore in the first six events in Sochi — when no American finished among the top five — and wear earlier versions made by the same manufacturer, Under Armour.

The suits the Americans will use are the same ones they wore at last month’s World Cup in Japan. They are different from the newer suits in that they don’t have venting in the back or the flow molding meant to give skaters an advantage by helping their bodies better cut through the air.

Prior to the Olympics, the new uniforms were lauded as the fastest ever. Relying on complex physical analysis of how speedskating affects the body, engineers from Under Armour and technology and defense firm Lockheed Martin designed the suits specifically for the Sochi Games.

But according to the Wall Street Journal, vents on the back of the suit were allowing air to come inside the skin, allegedly slowing down skaters. The vents were originally intended to let heat escape the body, but instead may have prevented American competitors like two-time defending men’s 1,000 meter gold medalist Shani Davis from performing their best. Davis finished eighth in the 1,000 meters.

Another American favorite, Heather Richardson, also disappointed in the ladies’ 500 and 1,000 meters, finishing eighth and seventh, respectively.

The men’s and ladies’ 1,500 meter speedskating events take place this Saturday and Sunday.