Gold-medal favorite and two-time Olympic champion Shani Davis failed to medal in the men’s 1,000-meter race on Wednesday and Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe of the women’s team had a similar outcome on Thursday during their events.
Instead of blaming the athletes, at least three people familiar with the U.S. team are holding the suits at fault, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Here’s the design flaw:
“Vents on back of the suit, designed to allow heat to escape, are also allowing air to enter and create drag that keeps skaters from staying in the low position they need to achieve maximum speed.”
Developed in partnership with defense giant Lockheed Martin and billed as the most technologically advanced skin suit in any Olympics, the Mach 39 suits, which none of the athletes were able to use prior to the Games, don't seem to be giving Team USA skaters an edge.
As of Thursday night, no American had finished better than seventh place in any of the six long-track speedskating events, with six events left to go. US Speedskating President Mike Plant is considering replacing the suits.
“We have a lot of people asking a lot of questions about what the best combinations is for us now,” Plant told the Chicago Tribune. “No decision yet.”
“Are we where we wanted to be? No," said world-record holder Bowe. "But that’s part of it and we move on from here.”
Davis is looking to redeem himself in 1,500-meter event, a race where he has twice won silver.