U.S. Speed Skating President Mike Plant said on Friday the team
would switch back to skin suits, made by the same American company
and worn before the Winter Olympics, for the remaining six races in
The Americans are still looking for a first medal in Sochi while the
Dutch have won 12, including four golds, from the first six events.
American athletes took to the Adler Arena oval for training on
Saturday wearing three different suits. Some American skaters wore
The sports apparel maker said on Friday that the organization
overseeing the American speed skating team had requested the option
to switch from the Mach 39 suit that was marketed as the fastest in
the sport's history.
"A request to change the racing suits of the USA long track speed
skating squad is currently under review," the ISU said in an email
"The proposed suits were approved by the ISU at the beginning of the
season for use during the ISU World Cups and Championships; however,
for use during the Olympic Winter Games, the suits must comply with
IOC Rule 50 and subsequently ISU Rule 223.
"If these requirements are met, then the ISU has no issue with this
IOC spokesman Mark Adams said the body was also happy with the
switch but it had not been approved yet.
"We are aware of it. This is in process. As long as it complies with
IOC rules, we do not have an issue. It is not completed yet," he told
reporters on Saturday.
American coach Matthew Kooreman said "for sure" his skaters would be
wearing their World Cup suits for the men's 1,500 meters later on
Saturday. But he was unsure if the swap would make a big difference
to their times.
"It's more about trying to make a change where we can feel good
about performances today," he told reporters after training at the
"I don't know if there is any hard evidence that says we had to, but
we're just trying to change the mood a little bit. We know we have
good suits from Under Armour that we have set world records in
before, so just something to spark a little bit of change in the
"I think people have now got something to lock on to and say, 'OK,
this is a change'. Now it's up to us to perform, there are no
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Kooreman said there had been individual meetings with the skaters
before a group discussion, and not all were happy with the proposed
switch which, if approved, means all will have to change their
"When you lose, you doubt, you are looking at your skates, your suits
everything, why are we under-performing essentially. I think it
looks worse because the Dutch are performing so well that it really
rubbed it in our faces."
American skater Anna Ringsred, who finished 26th in the women's
3,000m, thought the low-altitude ice near the Black Sea coast has
been a "bigger problem".
"A lot of us, myself included, get used to the fast ice and we train
on fast ice all the time and it really is quite different when you
come to slower ice like this," she told reporters. She has not been
included in the team meetings because her involvement in Sochi is
"The people who have been doing really well here are those that
generally train on it all the time. It favors people who are bigger.
You see some of the (South) Koreans are also struggling quite a bit
and I think if you are small it really is hard to work on this kind
Plant said the Americans had no doubts about the quality of the
three Under Armour suits provided for the Olympics.
Speculation about the reasons behind the U.S. team's poor
performance at the Games began after two-times Olympic champion
Shani Davis, who has won three of four World Cup races this season,
finished eighth in Wednesday's 1,000m event.
Under Armour shares fell 2.4 percent on Friday. The high-tech athletic
sportswear maker recently reported a 35 percent jump in revenue from
apparel in the quarter ended December 31.
(Additional reporting by Dhanya Skariachan and Phil Wahba in New
York and Karolos Grohmann in Sochi; editing by Peter Rutherford)
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