Girdles, Garter Belts and Spandex: Measures of an Olympic Hockey Playin' Man?
Legend has it that the moment Orsippus of Megara's girdle slipped provocatively off his loins during a sprint in 720 BC, the Olympics were doomed to display athletes in all their low-wind-resistance, naked glory--at least until the dour Christians came along and squashed the games around 394 AD.
Zoom your clock to the modern age. Swoosh! Nike (the company, not the Greek goddess) is outfitting even the crankiest hockey players on selected teams with sleek, low resistance uniforms made out of high tech materials, hot off the presses and wind tunnel tested. They're calling them Nike Swifts. The new uniforms are tight and streamlined--quite unlike Nike's traditional flowing robe (the goddess, not the company).
"Overall, Wand (Jordan Wand, director of Nike's Advanced Innovation Team) says the streamlining produces a 14 percent reduction in drag, enough to provide a 20-inch advantage over a traditionally clad skater of equal ability in a 50-yard sprint across the rink." ~ Hockey uniforms get lighter, cooler for Torino
Imagine, all that technology to get you back to the aerodynamic conditions of the original games, but without all the oily nakedness (Just in case you need to know: the Greeks viewed all this greasing up you did to your naked self with the help of your fellow athletes as quite normal behavior, while the Persians and Egyptians no doubt looked on aghast.)
In any case, you'd think hockey players would generally welcome any legal innovation that would allow them to relax even more than they do now against lesser teams who didn't have that kind of corporate support. But, at first, they didn't.
At a scrimmage last August, The Canadian Olympic team tried out the Nike prototypes. They lasted 20 minutes before the guys stripped them off, complaining that the Nike Swifts were too tight. (Tight don't feel right: Canuck skaters ditch new duds)
Marty Turco, watching the players from his home in the crease, said his team mates looked like video-game guys.
Shane Doan got analytical:
"They're different," Doan added. "And I don't know if different is in a good way or a bad way. If you fall down, you actually pick up speed. They're fairly slippery.
"But it cuts down on player costs to the team because you don't need a garter belt and you don't need sock tape because those things aren't moving once you get them on."
Garter Belts? Who knew?
Anyway, I'm thinkin' back to the good old days of big guys looking gnarly in wool, sweating profusely inside baggy uniforms, clutching splintery wooden sticks and flailing away dangerously at everything that moved. Doesn't intimidation count any more? Isn't baggy better?
Maybe I should ask a basketball player.
Endnotes: A good discussion on the Naked side of the Olympics is provided by Ancient Olympics Mixed Naked Sports, Pagan Partying.
Of course, the Olympics also features women's hockey. Here are the schedules:
NHL rules (which have changed this year) are different than Olympic hockey rules: Olympic Hockey Versus NHL Hockey
Additional gratuitous comment--This year, rule changes in the NHL designed to make the game more fan friendly make slashing away at your opponents jugular with the business end of your hockey stick (as long as no visible blood is produced) and creating a souvenir by flipping a puck into the stands equal penalties. How nuts is that?