'Speed Beads' To Special Zippers: Secrets Of 2014 Winter Olympic Uniforms Unveiled

‘Speed Beads’ To Special Zippers: Secrets Of 2014 Winter Olympic Uniforms Unveiled

Filed under: Olympics 

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A never-before-seen zipper design, polyurethane beads mounted on fabric, and something called “snow camo” — these are among the unique attributes found on uniforms debuted at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Here’s a breakdown of a few standout features on ski, skating, and snowboarding uniforms seen for the first time this month in Sochi. —Stephen Regenold

Speedskating Uniforms — Team USA worked with Under Armour to build its speedskating suits. The brand touts the skin-tight suits, made for maximum aerodynamics, were developed in partnership with aerospace engineering firm Lockheed Martin. See full breakdown/more description and photos here.

Some resulting features include molded beads placed on the suit to “disrupt air flow around an athlete’s body and reduce drag,” a new moisture-wicking fabric, and a “slippery” material used on the thighs of the suit where legs rub together on turns. (Update: See the news today about potential problems with these uniforms in the Wall Street Journal article, “Sochi Olympics: Under Armour Suits May Be a Factor in U.S. Speedskating’s Struggles.”)

Columbia LightRail Zipper — Created for the Olympics, Columbia Sportswear unveiled a unique zipper on its ski uniforms. The Lightrail zipper is incredibly slim, flexible and light. It is bonded to laser-cut fabric using an adhesive. Other than the zipper-pull, you have to look close to see the zipper’s seam on a jacket. See full breakdown/more description and photos here.

Freeskiing Suits — Laser-cut stars on the jacket cuffs and a stitched-in piece of a The North Face mountaineering suit worn on a Mount Everest expedition make the U.S. Freeskiing Olympic Uniforms unique.

Embroidered inside the jacket is the phrase “Bigger Than Me.” See full breakdown/more description and photos here.

Ice Climber Socks — Ice Climbing at Sochi is an “event” but not an official medals competition. (See our coverage in the article “Ice Climbing Comes To The Olympics.”) Steep routes, immense upper body strength, and precision footwork are needed to climb the routes. One climber, Gordon McArthur on Team Canada, wears synthetic running socks inside his crampon-equipped boots. The Ironman Flash Pro socks from Wigwam are thin, tight-fitting, and they have “mesh air vents” on top to let the feet breathe.

U.S. Snowboarding Suit — Burton dubs the look of its U.S. Snowboarding Team jackets as “heirloom-hippy aesthetic.” The corduroy and synthetic fabric jackets have a new kind of waterproof-breathable membrane and a funky “patchwork quilt” appearance the company said incites the vibe of true Americana. See full breakdown/more description and photos here.

‘Snow Camo’ — Team USA mogul skiers got a grey and white pattern on their Columbia Sportswear uniforms that’s made to help “mask body movement” so the skiers appear smoother while turning in the bumps.

The brand cites the “snow camo” design will disguise movement with its non-solid pattern moving against a white backdrop on the Sochi slopes. See full breakdown/more description and photos here.

—GearJunkie is hosting a full channel of Olympic content. See our ‘Road To Sochi’ channel for a variety of articles on the 2014 Winter Games.

Stephen Regenold
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Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.
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