Olympic Suits Remain a Mystery for U.S. Nordic

Emily SchwingNovember 22, 2013
Sophie Caldwell of the U.S. Ski Team (USST) and Stratton Mountain School T2 Team (SMST2) on her way to winning Thursday's qualifier. The USST rookie placed third in the A-final.
U.S. Ski Team (USST) member Sophie Caldwell races to the fastest qualifying time in the new USST World Cup suit at the Frozen Thunder classic sprint on Oct. 24 in Canmore, Alberta. While the team has yet to unveil it’s Olympic suits, some element of pink is a good guess for the women — and not because it’s girly.

The United States Olympic Team will wear gear designed by fashion mogul Ralph Lauren for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games.

What’s more, the uniforms worn during the ceremonies will bear the ‘Made in the USA’ label. That decision is at least partly in response to flak from Congress last year after it was discovered apparel worn by U.S. athletes during the 2012 London Summer Olympic ceremonies was actually made in China.

The uniforms include heavy blue pea coats with a wide red stripe around the bottom, sweaters with woven reindeer prancing across the front, and heavy black hiking boots complete with fire engine red laces. The entire ensemble looks as if a yacht club and a bunch of alpine climbers got together for a clothing swap.

But there’s still no word on what U.S. Nordic skiers athletes will wear in competition. The U.S. men’s hockey team released photos of their jerseys last month. Manufactured by Nike, the jerseys are as one might expected: red, white and blue, with USA emblazoned across the front and stars covering the shoulders. It’s unclear where they are being manufactured and they received only lukewarm reviews, with more than one source referring to the detailing as nothing more than “gimmicky crap.”

According to USA Today, the Canadian men’s hockey players are more than pleased with their jerseys, also made by Nike and complete with the same kind of “gimmicky crap,” plus wing-like maple leaves on the shoulders.

The entire ensemble looks as if a yacht club and a bunch of alpine climbers got together for a clothing swap.

But mum is the word on suits for U.S. cross-country skiers and biathletes.

Andy Newell of the USST on his way to winning Thursday's classic sprint qualifier by 3 seconds over Stratton Mountain School T2 teammate Skyler Davis (not shown). Newell went on to place second in the A-final.
Andy Newell of the USST clocking the fastest time in the Frozen Thunder classic sprint qualifier on Oct. 24. He went on to place second in his new World Cup suit.

“I’m not certain if I’m allowed to comment on the Olympic suits and honestly, I haven’t seen them yet,” U.S. Ski Team Olympic hopeful Holly Brooks wrote in an email.

It’s safe to say the suits are likely to involve spandex.

“I know they will be a play on what we already have with a ‘patriotic flare.’ Let’s just say that,” she added.

Margo Christiansen, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) communications director, wrote in an email that “athletes haven’t been issued the Olympic uniforms yet. We need to get through qualifying the team first!”

While other sports like luge have unveiled their race-day outfits for both the men and women and the U.S. bobsled teams have given at least a sneak peak, those of the nordic skiers remain a mystery.

“We’re currently working with the manufacturer to get a better understanding of timing,” Christiansen wrote.

“[That’s] the World Cup uniform. They will receive a totally different suit and design for Sochi.” — Margo Christiansen, USSA communication director on the U.S. Nordic Ski Team’s recently revealed suits

One thing is for sure: the suits that debuted at the Frozen Thunder Classic last month in Canmore, Alberta, were the U.S. Ski Team’s new World Cup suits. “The girls have pink accents and the guys have blue accents,” Christiansen confirmed.

There has also been mention of neon orange. Christiansen clarified a few details. “The orange … is in a training jacket for the guys, girls have pink accents in the training jacket. This is all the World Cup uniform,” she explained. “They will receive a totally different suit and design for Sochi.”

According Brooks, not everyone is keen on the orange. “I like the pink because it’s bright and distinctive, but I like the orange even better because it’s actually one of my favorite colors,” she explained.

The women’s puffy warm up jackets are pink this year. “We make quite a statement when we’re all wearing our coats traveling in a pack,” she said. “We’ve gotten lots of compliments so far.”

So what is with women and racing in pink? “It’s distinctive and bright,” Brooks explained.

Does it makes the team look girly?

“If nothing else, I think it helps us make the statement that we are girls but we can be fast, work hard and be serious about sport,” she wrote. “I don’t think we need to wear non-girly colors to prove that we’re athletes.” But for now, there is no word on whether the ski team pink will makes its way to the start line for races in Sochi.

Emily Schwing

Emily Schwing is a public radio reporter in Interior, AK. She normally writes about athletes of the four-legged kind. When she's not chasing dog teams, skiers and local news, she's breaking trail on her rock skis with a dog name Ghost. Follow her on Twitter @emilyschwing

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