When the Olympic cross-country skiers from the United States and Sweden take to the starting line in Pyeongchang in a few weeks, they’ll be decked out in a secret weapon. Thanks to Craft Sportswear, the athletes competing in that event will be dressed in a new high-tech racing suit that is lighter and faster than anything we’ve ever seen before, giving them a distinct edge over the competition.
At the last winter games, held in Sochi four years ago, Craft created the Podium suit, which proved to be highly successful for the skiers that wore it. Since then however, the company’s competitors have managed to close the gap in terms of performance. With that in mind, Craft’s designers went back to the drawing board to come up with something even more innovative. Working with skiers from both the U.S. and Swedish Olympic teams, they’ve developed a new racing suit called the Stratum, which tips the scales at a mere 7 ounces, making it quite possibly the lightest racing suit ever created.
Created using low-resistance fabrics, the Stratum was built for speed. The material that makes up the suit is not only very stretchy, but highly breathable too. But perhaps more importantly, the fabrics also feature a dimpled structure that provides improved aerodynamic capabilities, particularly when athletes are traveling along at speeds in excess of 12 miles per hour. Top Olympic cross-country skiers can easily hit more than 20 mph when skiing over flat terrain, which in theory means that those wearing the Stratum can go faster with less effort.
As you can probably imagine, most cross-country skiers expend a lot of energy while competing in a race. This can cause them to quickly overheat, particularly if the suit they are wearing isn’t built to handle the increased aerobic activity that comes with skiing at high speeds. That shouldn’t be an issue with the Stratum, which was designed to keep athletes cool at all times. To achieve that goal, the suit includes a body-mapped design that features laser-cut perforations along the back, chest, armpits, and the back of the knee. This allows excess heat and perspiration to escape, allowing skiers to stay drier and more comfortable while out on the course.
Whether this impressive new race suit will translate into medals in South Korea remains to be seen. We’ll find out on Saturday, February 10, when the first cross-country skiing event takes place.