After a disappointing Olympic games left the United States speedskaters scratching their heads, one Dutch coach (his team absolutely dominated the sport with 23 medals) thinks he has found the culprit: American Football.
Just a single silver medal in the 5,000-meter relay kept the U.S. from its first shutout since 1988, while the Dutch swept 75 percent of the podium spots and 8 gold medals in speedskating.
Dutch coach Jillert Anema blamed Football for the weak U.S. showing.
“You have a lot of attention for foolish sport, like American football,” Anema told CNBC on Friday. “You waste a lot of talent, athletic talent, in a sport where it’s meant to kill each other, to injure each other.”
“… (The U.S.) is so narrow-minded, and you waste a lot of good talent in a sport that sucks.”
And while the US is still licking its speedskating wounds and being told the nation’s most popular spectator sport sucks, the team has already agreed to extend its contract with Under Armour (which coincidently got its start making base layers for football players) to produce its uniforms through 2022.
The contract surprised some people after some theorized that flaws in the high-tech garments contributed to the poor performance of U.S. athletes — nicknamed ‘suitgate’ by the Olympic media.
“It’s time for everyone to move on,” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank told ESPN.com. “Forget about ‘Suitgate,’ all the conjecture, the thoughts and the theories, and let’s get back to reality.”
When U.S. speedskaters didn’t win a medal during the first half of Olympic competition, the high-tech suits built by Under Armour in collaboration with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin became a common scapegoat. Athletes and observers claimed a slit in the back, meant to increase airflow in the garments, caused drag that was slowing racers.
The team changed back to Under Armour suits seemed to work at the World Cup a month before. They still skated poorly in Sochi, so blame shifted to other reasons — including training strategy and funding woes.
Dutch coach Anema also had an interesting take on the flap over the Under Armour suits.
“The suit was one of the reasons (for the poor performance), but not because it was bad, but because they believed it is bad,” Anema told CNBC.
And while American football, faulty uniforms, training problems or a lack of money may have hurt U.S. speedskaters, Plank told ESPN that the Dutch, cocky coach and all, were really the biggest obstacle to U.S. success.
“They have this big speedskating oval and it’s the national pastime there,” Plank said. “It’s their baseball, football and basketball all wrapped up into one. The Dutch coach is already predicting dominance for the next Games, but we feel like we can play a part in changing that story.”