Suits you, sir! Our reporter tries a speedskating second skin

February 20, 2010

Larry Fine, our speedskating correspondent at these Winter Olympics, wanted to get a feel for what the athletes put themselves through. He got more than he bargained for… Over to Larry:

“First off, it should be noted that it was a size medium and I’m sure the good folks at Nike would have suggested a size or two larger for my particular build.

larryinmotion2Undaunted by that minor problem, I tried to pour myself into a sample of the stretchy, rubbery, hooded, aerodynamically designed one-piece second skin worn by skaters at the Richmond Olympic Oval.

Pour might not be quite the right word. Force, threaten or cajole might better describe the process in the men’s room at the Main Press Center.

Beads of sweat first began appearing with the awkward effort of pulling the toes and high-instepped foot through the tight opening at the bottom.

Then came a laborious series of tugs and pulls to get the material sufficiently up the leg. Only a strenuous series of jumps and tugs allowed a shot at getting my arms into the black sleeves.

By then, hunched over at the waist, perspiration was freely falling down my forehead.

Once the crotch was manoeuvred tight enough into the suit, insertion of the arms and hands through a tight opening at the end of the sleeve with special room for the thumb and index finger could be negotiated.

larry23With a little help from behind, I got the hood pulled brutally tight over the head and declared myself ready to go out into the world, although still bent over forward at a slight angle (the better to cut through air resistance?).

The tight latex/spandex material made me feel something like a superhero, perhaps summoned to save Vancouver from a spate of mechanical difficulties that have haunted the Games.

Unfortunately, the display could only be given at the Reuters press room across the hall since I couldn’t quite zip up the front of the uniform.

This was because of any technical snag in the equipment. No, this disappointment was the result of natural causes — an overly ample gut.

I left for the oval with a new respect for the degree of preparation required of the world’s top speedskaters.”

Larry Fine, Vancouver

Picture by Gary Hershorn


Larry, that was more of you than anyone should have to witness. But I admire your courage.

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