ZHANGJIAKOU, China – The U.S. freeski and snowboard teams will have a different look for the Beijing Olympics thanks to new uniform providers.
Since the 2018 Games, the teams have switched to Spyder and Volcom, respectively, from their longtime partners The North Face and Burton.
This year’s uniforms come with distinct looks for each, offering edgier patterns and multiple layering options that lean less into Americana themes than recent uniforms.
FOLLOW THE CHASE FOR GOLD: NNever miss a moment with our Olympic newsletter
BEIJING TEXT UPDATES:Get behind-the-scenes access to the Beijing Olympics
“They love the choice,” Michael O’Conor, U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s chief revenue officer, said of the athletes’ response. “They love the fun that comes with the uniform, and I’ve heard nothing but great things from an athlete perspective and really from a public perspective.”
The freeski team switched partnerships to Spyder after Pyeongchang, extending a relationship U.S. Ski & Snowboard has had for the alpine team for more than 30 years. Volcom came soon after, and Liberated Brands owns the intellectual property for both brands.
“The most appealing thing was just the fact that you have the world’s most incredible ski and snowboard athletes performing on the biggest stage at the highest level and providing them with the most elevated outerwear to complement and enhance their performance,” said Ryan Immegart, chief marketing officer for Liberated Brands.
The freeskiing uniforms feature large white and blue color blocks with red accents. The uniforms include jackets, hoodies and reversible vests that allow the athletes to tailor their looks. Uniforms for both teams are created with tech fabrics designed to help athletes keep warm and perform in competition.
The snowboarding uniforms feature five different kits that allow for a layering and a variety of looks. They include a collage print that Volcom intends as a tribute “to the storied history of the legends who have made the Volcom brand what it is today,” and each includes a lucky faux rabbit foot for good luck.
“I think (Spyder) is a great fit and they’re seeing where the industry is going,” O’Conor said. “They are cutting edge in terms of that freeski mentality.
“(Volcom has) been a partner that has, at least in the snowboard space, really pushed the envelope in terms of helping us put our brand out to the American public.”
The North Face had outfitted the freeski teams since halfpipe and slopestyle were added for that discipline in 2014. Burton had partnered with U.S. Ski & Snowboard since the 2006 Olympics, most recently creating NASA-inspired uniforms for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
“We’re happy to pass the torch to a brand like Volcom that gets snowboarding,” Burton CEO John Lacy said in a statement. “Burton continues to invest more in the sport of snowboarding, through ongoing R&D, progressive events, and pro riders than any other company in the world. As we look to the future, the best way to support snowboarding is to invest in the next generation of riders themselves, not on the licensing fees that the U.S. Ski & Snowboard uniform program demanded, and that’s where our commitment lies.”
O’Conor and Immegart said U.S. Ski & Snowboard is negotiating with both brands about renewing their deals after the Beijing Games.