Facebook Twitter

Veil slips off swift speedskating suit

SHARE Veil slips off swift speedskating suit

View Real Video - Click On Desired Bandwidth

Watch the Eyewitness News report

KEARNS ? The mythical Greek sports hero and all-around fast guy Swiftus Maximus might have simply opined, "Whoa, baby."

The corporate veil of secrecy was lifted worldwide Friday on the latest technological wonder to hit speedskating since the clap skate made its debut in the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

It's a body suit called the Swift Skin.

The fancy threads are the result of "Project Swift," a collaboration between Nike's Apparel Innovation team and the 3M, the same guys who help bring you office products, electronics and automotive parts.

The new form-fitting duds are designed to cut fractions of a second from the times of speedskaters, whose medal standings can be decided in the blink of an eye.

In the 2000 Sydney Summer Olympics, Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman wore a version of the suit to victory in the 400 meters. The suit's aerodynamic qualities that incorporate efficiency of air flow and body movement were applied to speedskating.

With cameras rolling and snapping, U.S. speedskating team hopeful Nate DiPalma skated in and modeled the slippery suit.

"You put it on and you feel like you can go a lot faster than you should," he told media at the Utah Olympic Oval, where long-track speedskaters are expected to break Olympic and world records left and right.

The suit will be an advantage to Australian short-track skaters and athletes from both the long and short discipline from the U.S. and the Netherlands ? the three countries that have contracted with Nike to provide them with the best in advanced apparel technology.

"We've never had so many people around us, thinking about our suit," said Dutch skater Erben Wennemars.

The thoughts that have gone into the suit include six different fabrics, something called Greptile on the fingertips of gloves that help with quicker starts and a 3M material made up of microscopic glass beads that reduce friction when one part of the uniform rubs against another. Even the skates are covered with a slick material.

U.S. skater and two-time Olympic medal winner Chris Witty said the Swift Skin gives users an advantage over others. Yeah, but Superman was still unbeatable ? kryptonite aside ? when he was merely Clark Kent, without his red cape and boots.

"The suit doesn't do anything on its own," said Nike innovation director Rick MacDonald. The technology simply helps skaters find out just how fast they can go. "It's all about the skaters."

Spinoffs of the product ? Nike could not say how much the suit costs ? could one day hit the retail market.

Imagine, a skating arena filled with average folks wearing these body suits.

Whoa, baby!

E-mail: sspeckman@desnews.com