U.S. speedskaters had their suspicions early that something was amiss with their body suits supplied by Baltimore-based Under Armour for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. And while a post-mortem of the U.S Speedskating team’s dismal performance exonerated the suit and the team extended its contract with UA for another eight years, the suit — or more precisely, the timing of its arrival — gets some blame after all.
The late introduction of the Under Armour suits was one in a series of crucial mistakes that led the U.S. speedskating team to its worst performance in 30 years at the Sochi Olympics, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a new internal assessment.
Ted Morris, the executive director of U.S. Speedskating, said another mistake was the team shouldn’t have trained at high altitude and outdoors in Italy ahead of the Games, which were indoors and at sea level. The conditions in Italy masked a dip in form by the athletes in the program ahead of the Olympics.
The findings in a report commissioned by U.S. Speedskating follow a tumultuous Olympics during which team members became progressively more frustrated as the athletes failed to medal. Much of that frustration was focused on new speed suits from Under Armour (NYSE: UA) that the team didn’t receive until shortly before they were to race in them.
Morris said the team erred in its decision not to use the brand-new Mach 39 suits in competition before the Olympics. During the Games, the team decided to revert to an older model of the suit, but the stress lingered, as the U.S. long-track squad failed to medal for the first time in 30 years.