skating: Million-dollar suits? Who cares?, says Wust
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[February 06, 2014]
By Patrick Johnston
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) — The latest,
greatest, high-tech speed skating suit capable of propelling athletes to
record times, reigning 1500 meter Olympic champion Irene Wust has heard
it all before.
If manufacturers are to be believed, American athletes in Sochi
are donning the fastest speed skating suit ever made. Canada and
Russia have made similar claims.
But for the experienced 27-year-old Wust, who won 3000m gold at the
Turin Games in 2006, the mere question about the proposed advantage
drew a wry smile which suggested 'here we go again'.
"Since Turin the suits haven't changed that much," the Dutchwoman
told reporters after training at the Adler Arena on Thursday.
"Between Nagano (1998) and Salt Lake City (2002) the suits changed a
lot. But the changes they make these days are marginal.
"My current suit pushes me into a speed skating position and that is
While she may not have the supposed boost of the reported
multi-million dollar American suit, triple defending world all round
champion Wust has been buoyed by a change in the ice.
"The ice is good, the type of ice I like," she said.
"In the beginning when I came here it was like really soft and a
little breaky and that is a little difficult for me but now they
changed it I'm happy with that. I'm satisfied. I'm feeling good, no
health issues so I'm ready for the Games."
Wust will be competing in all disciplines in Sochi as she bids to
overhaul compatriots Yvonne van Gennip and Marianne Timmer who won
three speed skating Olympic golds.
She faces a tough task in the 1000m against American duo Heather
Richardson and Brittany Bowe, who will wear the much discussed suits
tested by an aeronautics company, but is tipped to retain her 1500m
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"I don't care what others are doing," Wust said.
"Even if they have a really fast suit, I still want to beat them. I
cannot change it. So it won't worry me."
Her 3000m race against defending champion Martina Sablikova of the
Czech Republic and Germany's five-times Olympic gold medalist
Claudia Pechstein is highly anticipated, especially at home where
speed skating is revered.
Many orange-clad fans are expected to swarm the 8,000- seater Adler
Arena, adding extra pressure.
"Of course Martina Sablikova is a big favorite and Claudia Pechstein
but I know I'm one of the favorites and I like it," said Wust, a
bisexual athlete who has previously ruled out talking about her
sexuality or making a statement in Sochi about Russia banning the
spread of "gay propaganda" among minors.
"It has given me a good feeling. It gives me a little extra pressure,
and I like that extra pressure because that brings out the best in
me. So looking forward to it."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)
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