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'Suitgate' Over? U.S. Speedskating, Under Armour Renew Contract

American speedskaters will continue to wear suits developed by Maryland's Under Armour after a contract was renewed Feb. 21.

American speedskaters will continue to wear suits developed by Maryland's Under Armour after a contract was renewed Feb. 21. Credit: Screenshot from Fox Sports
American speedskaters will continue to wear suits developed by Maryland's Under Armour after a contract was renewed Feb. 21. Credit: Screenshot from Fox Sports

A new deal between Under Armour and the American speedskating community may silence the buzz from the 2014 Winter Olympics that questioned whether American athletes had a poor showing because of the company’s suits.

U.S. Speedskating and Under Armour on Friday announced an eight-year renewal of its contract through the 2022 Olympics, the Baltimore Business Journal reports. 

"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. 

News of the agreement comes as the Baltimore-based athletic apparel company battles the public relations fallout over the performance of its uniforms at the Sochi Olympics, the Business Journal says. Some U.S. speedskaters have complained that the much-hyped uniforms are to blame for the team not winning any medals.

After U.S. speedskaters didn't win a medal in the first half of Olympic competition, the focus shifted to the suits made by Under Armour in partnership with Lockheed Martin to explain how favorites like Shani DavisHeather Richardson and Brittany Bowe finished so far out of contention, the network says.

The team changed back to the Under Armour suits that gave it success at the World Cup a month before, yet the members still skated poorly in Sochi, going without any medals for the first time since 1984.

A Fox Sports analyst noted Friday that the number of speedskating medals won by Americans has dropped in each of the previous three Winter Olympics, so the sport's organization will be scrutinized.

ESPN says other reasons -- including training strategy, a smaller coaching staff and funding woes – have now emerged as possible explanations for the poor showing.

Under Armour executive Matt Mirchin told The Baltimore Sun the company finalized the deal with US Speedskating quickly to drive home that the partnership remains strong and Under Armour still believes in both the athletes and the Mach 39 suit design.

"We wanted to send a message to the world that Under Armour and US Speedskating, when we get knocked down, we get back up and want to come back and be bigger, stronger, faster and better in 2018,” Mirching told the newspaper. “When athletes are awarded medals, it will be Americans receiving them."

Maryellen Brady February 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM
Why would our athletes continue to wear outfits that prevent them from doing what they love best: WINNING. These outfits may have been AMERICAN made, but they certainly didnt live up to AM standards of performance. Why do we continue to reward FAILURE because it is CORPORATE made? AMerican athletic ambitions deserve better!
MG42 February 22, 2014 at 01:09 PM
Eh, the Olympics are a waste of time and money anyway.
Maryellen Brady February 22, 2014 at 01:36 PM
I dont think the OLYMPICS is a waste of time. It is a great source of inspiration and accomplishment for many young, old and even handicapped people. It is just the embarrassment the OLYMPIC committee has allowed it to warp into. SOCHI was an unfit site for WINTER OLYMPICS and the committee bowed to political pressures, instead of looking out for a fair and safe place for athletes to compete. The SHAME is on the Olympic committee and the team managers that allowed COMMERCIALISM to contaminate those competitors.
John February 24, 2014 at 08:31 AM
Whiners always blame someone or something else when they lose. It's never their fault! They got their butts kicked, admit it! The Olympics is not about competing for your country any more, it's about competing for the almighty dollar!

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