If you’ve been watching the 2006 Torino Olympics you may have noticed some of the interesting sports gear used by the athletes. This is nothing new….many Winter Olympic sports lend themselves to technological advancement. Whether we’re talking about clap-skates used for speed skating, aerodynamic bobsleds, or specialized helmets for your various sliding sports,the Winter Olympic sports are loaded with performance equipment. What’s interesting about this Olympics though a new body suit from Adidas. Many of the cross country skiers in the Winter Olympics have been sporting the new suit that is said to offer major improvements in athletic performance…..many of which are relevant to track and field. According to controlled laboratory tests conducted at the University of Calgary, the new Clima TechFit cross-country suit offers an average 5.3% improvement in energy output and 1.1% faster sprint time when measured over 30 meters. Even more importantly, the suit is said to reduce oxygen consumption by a whopping 1.3%. This is incredible to say the least. How does the thing work I’m sure you’re asking? Well the suit works by using compression strips that link the legs and the upper body with the trunk. A number of technologies are used to produce the benefits mentioned above. The compression strips support leg muscles and reduce muscle vibration and oscillation, thus reducing energy loss and muscle fatigue for better “muscle management.” This stuff has been used by sprinters and Olympic weightlifters for a couple years now. In fact, Kim Collins apparently wore a prototype of the suit when he won the 2003 World Championships 100m dash. What isnew are the power bands. These bands are positioned along key muscle groups and contract and expand together with the athlete’s muscles. This creates an energy storage and return similar to the athlete’s own muscles. Through the linking and interaction of all muscles, the suit enables greater efficiency to be achieved.