After years of a remarkable level of wardrobe schizophrenia, the US Ski Team has ushered in a new era of racing suit consistency that should make it easier to follow our favorite US athletes on the race course. There are currently two suit variations being used by US Ski Team athletes, and athletes racing for the US in international events. They are so similar, that for practical purposes (identifying US skiers in a race) they may as well be the same. Both suits are predominantly red, with one version having patches of orange, and the other silver. The red/orange suit was supposed to be the team suit last season, but manufacturing delays meant they weren’t delivered until after the season. The suit is a standard fabric.
The red/silver suit is this year’s new model – BJ Sports new Techo suit – very thin fabric, pull-over design with no zipper.
US Ski Team athletes received both suits this year and may wear either. Athletes racing at one event (World Juniors, U23s, Nationas Group World Cup, etc) received one or the other.
All US racers at the Whistler World Cup wore one of these two suits. This is in contrast to the five distinct suits worn by US Ski Team athletes at the Canmore World Cups (this does not include club suits worn by some Nation’s Group athletes). FasterSkier was able to identify at least four different suits at the Sapporo World Championships in 2007, and two suits at the 2006 Olympics. There have also been numerous occasions on the World Cup when US athletes in the same race will have completely different suits. “Who cares?” you may wonder. From the spectating standpoint, be it in person, or on television, the variety of suits can make it very difficult to identify US athletes in a race. With so many events now being mass start, it can be very hard to pick out bib numbers – color is the key. Television coverage generally focuses on the top one or two athletes in the race, but there are times when US skiers are on-screen, especially in sprints. Again, the suit may be the only reference we get. A team should have a uniform and athletes should wear it. You don’t generally see other nations sporting multiple suits in one event. You don’t even see that at the collegiate level, and many high school teams have been more coordinated than the US Ski Team over the past years.
When asked about the new suits, US Cross-Country director John Farra gladly provided details. In regards to the upcoming World Championships, he said that it would be nice to have everyone in the new Techo suit, and while “that will be a goal, it is not as critical as kicking butt in either one of them.” And that captures it. What the athletes wear is a distant second to performance, but the new consistency is a welcome addition for spectators and fans, both domestically and internationally. Now the hope is the US will be stylish AND fast! When asked about suits for next year’s Olympics, Farra only said that it will be a relative of the current suit, but the actual design is currently considered Top Secret. FasterSkier put together a photo history of some of the suits worn by US Ski Team athletes over the last years. Click on the thumbnails to view larger versions.
Canmore World Cup 2008
Sapporo World Championships 2007
World Cup 2007
Torino Olympics 2006
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.