Team GB accused of cheating over skeleton suits as US erupts in fury.
Great Britian’s skeleton riders came out of nowhere to wow with top times on training runs earlier this week, and there is, at the very least, speculation that Team GB is deriving an unfair advantage from its uniforms.
And this isn’t just speculation from armchair experts. It’s from opponents. “I’m not a scientist,” U.S. skeleton athlete Katie Uhlaender said. “I just know that I was trying to get a suit of the same quality and I was told that it was illegal.”
The outfits, according to a glowing Guardian article published Monday, are “the latest version of the revolutionary skinsuits that have helped British Cycling to dominate the last three Summer Games. The custom-made aerodynamic suits provide a ‘massive’ improvement on the conventional ones – with riders expected to benefit by as much as a second during each of their four skeleton runs in the Games.”
The Guardian story continued:
“The suit works largely due to special drag-resistant ridges developed by scientists at TotalSim in Northampton, and the English Institute of Sport, which create a ‘turbulence effect’ in the suit that reduces the amount of wind resistance acting on the body. The suits are also custom-made, with each athlete undergoing a 3D laser-scan for fitting before they are built with polyurethane derivatives.”
British officials insist the suits are legal, and there’s nothing in the description that suggests they aren’t. The International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation’s rules on “clothing” are pretty bare. They do state: “No aerodynamic elements whatsoever may be attached either outside or under the race suit.”
Team GB and its manufacturing partners don’t appear to have done that, though. They’ve just engineered a material whose texture helps the riders. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
“People can speculate as much as they like,” said Jerry Rice, a British rider (not an NFL Hall of Famer). “The fact of the matter is the British guys are fast because we’re good at sliding, no other reason. We’re innovators, we do everything we can to be as fast as we can be.”