Friday, February 21, 2014
NEW YORK (AP) — Athletic gear maker Under Armour has signed an eight-year deal with U.S. Speedskating to provide uniforms despite controversy over the suit it provided the team at the Sochi Olympics.
Under Armour spent years developing a new speedskating suit that debuted during the Olympics but flopped. U.S. speedskaters, including favorite Shani Davis, didn't medal, and some blamed the suit. The team reverted to an older Under Armour suit, but results have not yet improved.
Under Armour Inc. said Friday it is ready to try again. The Baltimore-based company will outfit the U.S. speedskating team for the next two Winter Olympics, beginning with South Korea in 2018.
"It's good under the circumstances that Under Armour still believes in the U.S. as a team and they're willing to work with us," Davis said. "It's nice of them to do that."
Under Armour shares rose to a new high in morning trading Friday.
Company CEO and founder Kevin Plank said in an interview with CNBC that Under Armour was "doubling down" and hoped to move past the Sochi controversy.
Financial terms were undisclosed. In the interview, Plank said the current contract expires in a month so the timing was right for a new deal.
"We get knocked down, we dust ourselves off and we come back bigger, better and stronger than we ever were before," he said. "We don't want this story going longer."
Plank added that when the U.S. speedskating team performed below expectations, there were only "so many variables," to explain the disappointment, and the new suit was one possibility. He added that Under Armour athletes have won 10 medals at the Olympics.
In addition to U.S. speedskating, Under Armour has exclusive uniform agreements with the U.S. bobsled and skeleton teams, U.S. gymnastics and the Canadian snowboarding team.
Under Armour shares rose $4.19, or 3.9 percent, to $111.38 in morning trading after hitting an all-time high of $111.97 earlier in the session. The stock is up more than 22 percent so far this year.
AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Sochi, Russia, contributed to this report.