Under Armour Inc., the sportswear maker outfitting the U.S. speedskating team at the Winter Olympics, said it’s working to improve skating suits after a reports that they’re slowing down athletes at the Sochi Games.
The Baltimore-based company’s outfits came under scrutiny after no American finished better than seventh place in the six speedskating events held as of Thursday night. The U.S. won four medals in speedskating in the 2010 Vancouver Games. Some have blamed a design flaw in the suits’ rear ventilation panels, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing three unidentified people familiar with the U.S. team.
No problems were discovered with the ventilation panels of the suits in six weeks of testing leading up to the games or after they were delivered to the teams in January, Plank said.
The shares declined 2.4 percent to $106 on Friday. The stock had more than doubled in the past 12 months through Thursday, compared with a 20 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
The reports go straight to the core of the company’s image as a purveyor of technically advanced apparel that has fueled a more than a doubling of sales in the past three years and boosted its stock. That reputation hasn’t been damaged yet because there’s no proof Under Armour is at fault, according to Sam Poser, an analyst for Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. in New York. Kip Carpenter, the U.S. skating coach, isn’t publicly blaming Under Armour. He also said skaters should switch to a different suit, if it makes them feel more comfortable.
A skater doesn’t lose a second in the 1,000-meter race “because of a skin suit,” Carpenter told reporters.