Sport Why are American snowboarders dressed like astronauts?

11:42  12 february  2018
11:42  12 february  2018 Source:   Olympics Wire

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Agreed about the needed range of motion but this is why we have lycra. Racers tend to roll up their pants, snowboarders like everything baggy, and some ladies wear their Spyder pants so tight I can't imagine how they actually ski.

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The uniforms of Winter Olympic athletes run a wide spectrum of fashion, from the sequins of skating to the sweaters of hockey to the Dumb and Dumbergloves of the Opening Ceremony to the Midwestern chic of curling. Speed skaters wear aerodynamic suits that are considered so vital to the sport that they get the blame for an entire country's lackluster Olympic performance. Figure skating fashion is all about form over function. And then there's the so-called X Games events.

In those, athletes wear clothes so baggy it looks like they're auditioning for a Kriss Kross video. If they're not single-handedly trying to bring back flannel, a snowboarder or moguls skier is usually wearing a top that looks like a trash bag and a bottom that resembles a mix of JNCO jeans and your older sibling's hand-me-down snow pants you used to wear as a kid. But this year's Team USA uniforms take things to another stratosphere, quite literally.

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If you hadn't noticed, American snowboarders at the 2018 Winter Olympics are totally dressed like astronauts.

Look at either picture of gold medalist Red Gerard from above or the picture below of his teammate Ryan Stassel. They look they got a ride to Pyeongchang from Elon Musk and descended from upon high like those SpaceX rockets. What's the deal?

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Well, if the Americans look like astronauts it's because they're supposed to look like astronauts. Burton, the "snowboard lifestyle" company, took inspiration from NASA in designing this year's "retro-futuristic" U.S. uniforms for the halfpipe, slopestyle and big air competitions. It's on purpose. (Something I didn't know when I sat down to solve this Olympic mystery. I thought it was coincidence.)

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The homage in design is obvious but there's more to it than just the look. The retro aspect of the unis take a page in design and function from the 1960s spacesuits worn by Apollo astronauts. The suit is extremely lightweight, breathable and waterproof. Burton also used a "space-age font" for the patches and wordmarks and the famous "international orange" color that was so striking on the old NASA suits. The futuristic part refers to the aluminum-coated fabric (mainly used in audio equipment, for some reason), a liquid metal look made possible by an iridescent silver fabric and an overall uniform that deflects light (I guess) and sound (still not getting it).

File Photo © File Photo File Photo

"I have always loved the astronauts' suits, because not only do they have such a cool and amazing aesthetic, they also were designed to function under the most extreme conditions," said Greg Dacyshyn, Burton's head designer, in a press release.

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Even with the explanation, one question remains: Why is everything so baggy? Doesn't all that fabric get in the way? There's a case to be made for wanting a little room to maneuver, but if skiers can hurtle down hills and make pinpoint turns at 80 mph, surely a snowboarder can hit a cab 1080 double cork in the same form-fitting clothing. There'd be plenty of room underneath for whatever wearable protections some athletes use.

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It seems to be mostly a matter of the culture of snowboarding, which runs counter to the hipster skinny-jean lifestyle. In 2010, The New York Times said that a more streamlined look, which would theoretically give racers more of an advantage, was unwelcome due to "peer pressure and mutual understanding." The antiestablishment origins of the sports made participants want to avoid the conventional clothing of the old guard skiing events. It takes great care to make it appear as if you don't care.

There are even rules against tight clothing. Some disciplines dictate that suits must be two pieces and "form fitting speed or downhill suits are not permitted." It's been common for uniforms to be measured at the end of ski cross races to make sure the nonconformist uniforms conform to rules.

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The association with astronauts was further strengthened by Tom Wolfe's book "The Right Stuff" and in films like Apollo 13 and Terms of Endearment. Despite the help of a local dealer, the astronauts of the era would probably have still chosen the American vehicles most like their own spaceships: small

These NASA uniforms conform to both the rules and the lifestyle. They're a brilliant look for Team USA and, with Red Gerard's opening gold medal, clearly have snowboarders taking one small step for man and one giant leap for bro-kind.

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Opinion: Big air snowboarding doesn’t look that big -- is it? .
Tuning into the Olympic debut of the Big Air snowboarding event, I couldn't help but feel some excitement. Snowboarders already get some tremendous air. At times it's simply massive. Thank of Shaun White in the halfpipe or Red Gerard in slopestyle. I assumed their air was among the biggest air possible. But now an event not only promises more air but makes a point of declaring it BIG, which inherently suggests that all previous air was not nearly as big. This must have been some big, honkin' air. I had to see it.Tuning into the Olympic debut of the Big Air snowboarding event, I couldn't help but feel some excitement. Snowboarders already get some tremendous air. At times it's simply massive.

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