Speedskating: Suits not to blame for failures, says U.S. Committee

Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:18am EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - American speed skaters flopped at the Sochi Olympics, failing to win a single medal, but their controversial suits had nothing to do with the sub-par performance, United States Olympic Committee CEO Scott Blackmun said on Saturday.

The Americans went home without a medal for the first time since the 1984 Sarajevo Games, despite proclaiming their team of 17 skaters could match the feat of the 2002 squad who won a record eight medals at their home Salt Lake City Olympics.

"If you look at the speed skating results, we weren't the only team that got smoked by the Netherlands," Blackmun told reporters.

"They had a fantastic Games and we extend a hearty congratulations to them. In terms of what happened, I think we're fairly confident that it was not the suits."

The initial optimism was due to a high-tech suit made by Under Armour which was tested extensively in wind tunnels, but, crucially, not enough by athletes in competition.

The Dutch, in marked contrast, won 21 of 30 individual medals and had four clean sweeps at the Adler Arena in a memorable Games.

The U.S. speed skating team ditched the maligned Mach 39 Under Armour suits after failing to win any medals in the first six skating events at the Winter Games.

But a switch to an older model suit by the Baltimore-based sports apparel company also failed to reverse their fortunes.   Continued...

Jilleanne Rookard of the U.S. waits to compete in the women's 1,500 metres speed skating race at the Adler Arena during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, February 16, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble