Speed skating: U.S. 'lucky' to be able to switch suits

Sun Feb 16, 2014 5:01am EST
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By Patrick Johnston

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - The United States speed skating team were lucky enough of their athletes brought back-up suits to Sochi so they could ditch their much-maligned Under Armour outfits, coach Michael Kooreman told reporters on Sunday.

The U.S. opted to do away with their 'Mach 39' suits after failing to win a medal in the first six skating events at the Adler Arena.

The switch to an earlier-model Under Armour outfit failed to bring a reverse in fortunes, though, as Brian Hansen ended Saturday's 1,500m in seventh, the best-placed of the four U.S. skaters.

Under Armour provided the team with three different suit configurations before Sochi, but Kooreman said it wasn't regular practice for skaters to bring extra suits to events.

"Most of the athletes just had it here and there were some extra back up ones," he told reporters of the skinsuit they were now using.

"We kind of got lucky that we had enough to be honest."

The decision to change came after individual and team meetings on Friday with the International Olympic Committee only approving the use of the skinsuit, used by the team in the current World Cup campaign, an hour before Saturday's race.

Kooreman had said on Saturday that the decision wasn't unanimous among the 17-skater team and thought the failings of the U.S. were more likely psychological than material.   Continued...

Jonathan Kuck of the U.S. competes in an older suite in the men's 1,500 metres speed skating race during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Issei Kato