The 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia won't take place until February of 2014, but at an event last week in Denver, Under Armour gave the media a sneak peek at the suits they've designed for the United States speed skating and bobsled teams, as well the Canadian snowboard team.
With Olympians Lindsey Vonn, Bobby Brown and Dominique Maltais flanking him on stage, UA CEO Kevin Plank lauded the technology used in the outfits his company has produced for their Olympic athletes, announcing that UA will "not cede the technology space to anyone." Here are the highlights.
Canadian Snowboard Cross Suit
Aside from the attractive red and white color scheme forming the maple leaf on the Canadian flag, the suit also features Under Armour's "Infrared" cold gear technology on the inside, which traps heat generated by the wearer when he/she is barreling down the mountain. The heat-trapping coating on the inside was apparently inspired by the ceramic coating on military planes like the stealth bomber.
U.S.A. Men's Bobsled Suit
Infrared cold gear technology finds another home in the men's bobsled uniforms, which are light and thin and fit tightly to the body to enhance aerodynamics.
U.S.A. Speed Skate Suit
Unfortunately, the most technologically advanced suit of the three was not allowed to be photographed, but UA was forthcoming about the details. The brand sent a motion capture film crew to Salt Lake City, as senior vice president of innovation Kevin Haley put it, "to identify every little bend, every little joint and every position [the skaters] assumed while they were skating." After sending the data to Lockheed Martin and testing 250 different suit configurations in a wind tunnel at the University of Maryland, five specific technologies were put into the final product.
Ventilation textiles down the spine allow the skater to get rid of excess heat while absorbing cool air as he moves, keeping his body temperature down. A stretch zipper pulls from the left side to the right and finishes at the side of the skater's neck—replacing the traditional vertical zipper, which created an uncomfortable binding effect at the neck that led many skaters to pull the zipper down a bit, thus creating a parachute-like effect with the suit and killing its aerodynamics. Another highlight is a new textile around that legs that Haley claims reduces by 65 percent the heavy friction created by continually crossing one leg over the other while skating.
"We created what we believe are the fastest suits ever made," Haley said.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock