No photos. That’s a term journalists hate to hear. But when I attended an Under Armour event unveiling several Olympic uniforms last month, it was clear by the many guards that they meant business when it came to speedskating uniforms for Team USA.
Well, at last, we have permission to lift the veil.
This morning Under Armour unveiled the speed suits. The technology in these uniforms is cutting-edge, thus the secrecy that has surrounded their release.
The Mach 39 Speedskating Skin was developed from the ground up in partnership with aerospace engineering firm Lockheed Martin over more than two years.
Research and development started by capturing speedskaters’ motion on the ice with high-speed cameras. Using that information, the developers looked for possible areas for improvement.
Engineers created a “computational fluid dynamics model” to analyze the airflow around the skater and determine key body positions.
Reinforced fiberglass mannequins were created to mimmic the various positions used by skaters. Those were used in more than 300 hours of wind tunnel testing with hundreds of different skin setups and textile configurations to find the most aerodynamic combinations.
What they came up with is impressive:
— Flow Molding: Molded, engineered polyurethane aerodynamic shapes are placed on critical areas of the skin to disrupt air flow around an athlete’s body and reduce drag.
— Soflex Zipper: A stretchy zipper goes to the side of the throat and circumvents the body, allowing skaters to stay zipped up in comfort, which improves aerodynamics.
— ArmourVent: Used in the spine for extra breathability.
— Under Armour HeatGear: moisture-wicking technology keeps sweat from weighing down skin.
— ArmourGlide: Used in the thigh where legs rub together on turns, this fabric reduces the coefficient of friction by 65 percent.
— Pinstriping: Even the hotrod-inspired pinstriping by artist Steve Chasezeyka is placed strategically to help reduce wind resistance.
So when team USA hits the ice in Sochi in February, rest assured there’s been a lot of thought and effort put into their clothing. This is one garment that’s as techy as it appears. —Sean McCoy