SOCHI, Russia — Shrouded in controversy just days ago for high-tech suits that didn’t result in Olympics medals, US Speedskating and Under Armour have decided to continue their high-profile partnership, which was due to expire this year. The Baltimore-based sports apparel company will continue to supply U.S. speedskaters with suits for eight more years — through the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Under Armour created a cutting-edge suit called the Mach 39 for the American speedskaters for the Sochi Olympics. But after early struggles here, concerns about the suit began surfacing and U.S. skaters opted to revert to an older Under Armour model. Results never changed, though. The Americans team has yet to win a single medal in either long- or short-track speedskating here.
Many of the criticisms that centered on Under Armour have waned as American skaters continued to struggle after switching suits.
“US Speedskating remains extremely grateful to have such a supportive partner and to have access to Under Armour’s game-changing innovations, which have helped propel countless athletes around the world to championship results,” Mike Plant, the president of US Speedskating said in a statement. “The length and scope of this agreement send a strong signal about Under Armour’s commitment to our athletes and will best position them to skate with confidence and a competitive edge well into the future.”
While early speculation suggested the Under Armour brand might take a hit with the U.S. struggles in Sochi, Under Armour officials have long felt that the Olympics are an important avenue to introduce its company and products to a global market. The company also outfits USA Bobsled and Skeleton, USA Gymnastics and Canada’s snowboard team.
“It has always been Under Armour’s mission to make all athletes better, and we are proud to make our biggest commitment ever to the US Speedskating team by providing these championship competitors with leading innovations and training resources to help them fulfill their dreams on the world’s biggest stages,” Kevin Plank, the Under Armour found and CEO, said in a statement.
The opportunities for U.S. speedskaters to medal in Sochi are dwindling. On Saturday night, the Americans will compete in the men’s 500-, women’s 1,000- and men’s 5,000-meter relay races. The only remaining long track events are the men’s and women’s team pursuit finals, both scheduled for Saturday.