UPDATE 1-Under Armour says U.S. speed skaters want option to use earlier suits

Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:04pm EST

By Dhanya Skariachan and Phil Wahba

Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Speedskating has asked Olympic authorities to let its athletes use an earlier version of a suit made by Under Armour Inc, the sports apparel maker's head of innovation told Reuters on Friday.

The move comes after a dismal start for the U.S. team at the Sochi Games, where it has yet to win a medal after six of 12 events.

Kevin Haley, Under Armour's senior vice-president for innovation, said the U.S. team would drop suits worn in the first six events, and instead use earlier versions that don't have flow molding and the ventilated panel in the back meant to help skaters cut through the air more effectively.

Under Armour's Haley told Reuters that only four skaters or so asked for the change in the suits and that the "vast majority" of U.S. speedskaters are not blaming the suits.

"We'll be racing with new suits that hopefully bring us new luck," U.S. speedskater Brian Hansen said on his Facebook page.

On Wednesday, Shani Davis, the Olympic champion in 2006 and 2010, flopped in the men's 1,000 metres and on Thursday, top-ranked duo Heather Richardson and Brittany Bowe both missed out on medals in the 1,000 meters.

Even though some athletes want to revert to the previous suit, the U.S. speedskating body declined to blame Under Armour.

"The evidence does not suggest that the suits have contributed to the disappointing results to date," said Ted Morris, Executive Director of U.S. Speedskating.

Neither world skating's governing body, the International Skating union, nor the International Olympic Committee, were available for comment when contacted by Reuters in Sochi.

Under Armour shares fell 2.4 percent on Friday. The hi-tech athletic sportswear maker recently reported a 35 percent jump in revenue from apparel in the quarter ended Dec. 31.