RALEIGH, N.C. — The United States will send the largest team ever to attend a Winter Olympics, 242 athletes, to next month’s Pyeongchang Games, the U.S. Olympic Committee says. Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn, figure skating favorite Nathan Chen and speedskater Shani Davis, the winner of four Olympic medals, headline the team of 107 women and 135 men who will be seeking to earn the United States their 100th Olympic gold and 300th medal. The Americans won 28 medals, including nine golds, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and with 103 Olympians returning, they are looking for an equally strong showing.
“It’s been pretty brutal to wait for another Olympics,” said Vonn, who will be making her fourth appearance at a Games having missed out on a trip to Sochi in 2014 with a knee injury.
The official uniform of the team is once again produced by Ralph Lauren, featuring all American-made pieces. But a heavy coat will be key as the athletes don the red, white and blue in likely freezing temperatures for the opening ceremonies.
Calling it the “next evolution in wearable technology,” Ralph Lauren has the athletes in heated parkas that provide 11 hours of warmth through electronic printed conductive inks, printed in the shape of an American flag in carbon and silver ink and bonded to the interior of the jackets. The printed conductive inks are flexible, stretchable and connect to a battery pack with three settings. The uniform is all USA colors with touches of frontier fashion with mountain boots and fringed suede explorer gloves with hand-beading.
“Ralph Lauren is excited by the convergence of fashion and function, and we are committed to supporting Team USA athletes by outfitting them with the latest innovative technology,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer for Ralph Lauren. “We’re proud that we’ve worked so closely with the athletes, as well as the U.S. Olympic Committee, to keep evolving and improving. The uniform celebrates the American spirit, with iconic pieces updated with modern details and technical fabrications.”
As eye-catching as the Team USA uniform will be, the 169 Russian athletes will have the most noticeably plain garb, after the IOC issued conduct guidelines on Friday that said Russian athletes who compete as independents at next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics must wear neutral uniforms that say “Olympic Athlete from Russia” on them and cannot grab a Russian flag or stage alternate medal ceremonies.
The International Olympic Committee in December banned Russia from the Feb. 9-25 Games in South Korea because of the country’s doping violations. The IOC has said if Russia respected the decisions it could potentially be admitted back under its own flag at the Games’ closing ceremony.