The United States speed-skating team performed poorly in the Sochi Olympics. According to Yahoo Sports, the new suits impaired the skaters’ speed. These suits, designed by Under Armour and named “Mach 39,” were revealed to have never been tested in competition. The reasoning for not testing the news suits was because the United States wanted to keep the suit secret for fear that other nations would copy the technology. As a result, the suits were finished only six weeks before the opening ceremony. The company continued to tout the features of the Mach 39, despite complaints from the skaters that the suits felt uncomfortably tight and made breathing difficult. Meanwhile, the designer of the Dutch speedskating team’s suits tried the Mach 39 suit and noted that it did not make the user faster. In fact, the designer believed that a vent installed in the back of the suit slowed down performance.
Mach 39 was a high risk project that ended up being a hindrance as opposed to a help, due to the fact that the company and the US team were making poor choices. For instance, the fact that they kept the suits secrets meant that obtaining performance metrics was nearly impossible. The Mach 39 designers ignored expert feedback, specifically from the players and other designers, as the former were able to physically confirm that the suits did not help them, while the Dutch designer was able to target the specific problem with the suits. If Under Armour was not so obsessed with secrecy, they may have been able to acquire valuable information that would have improved the United States speedskating team’s performance in the Sochi Olympics.