Slovenian ski racer Tina Maze flashed her sports bra over the weekend in response to a controversial complaint that her underwear gave her a competitive edge. When she stripped down, the words “Not Your Business” were written across her chest.
The day before, International Ski Federation (FIS) President Gian Franco Kasper called for a rule change to clarify what kind of underwear skiers can wear.
The request came after the Swiss ski team protested Maze’s second-place finish at a World Cup super-G in Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, saying the plastic level in her one-piece garment exceeded FIS rules, giving her an aerodynamic edge.
After confiscating and testing the one-piece garment, the FIS issued a statement saying the “air permeability rules were fulfilled.”
The federation gave Maze the go-ahead to wear the undergarment adding there will be no change to the race results. They did, however, recommend racers not to use plastic clothing because it could prevent the body from breathing.
In discussing the controversy, the New York Times writes:
In a sport where victory is often decided by hundredths of a second, racers look for any opportunity to shave time off their runs, experimenting with speed-suit fabrics, modifying equipment setups and working with technicians to identify the perfect ski wax. Because some air passes through a skier’s outer layer of clothing, undergarments that further reduce wind resistance may be the next frontier of strategic equipment.
FIS clothing regs were originally intended to protect athletes’ health, prescribing material that allows racers’ uniforms to breath and perspiration to escape. Typically, ski racers wear compression gear — a type of long underwear that facilitates muscle recovery, circulation and warmth — under the high-tech fabrics that make up their outer speed suits.
Other sports have similar controversies. High tech swimsuits were banned, then allowed, then banned again after records starting falling like dominoes. For now, skiers have a clear directive ” It has to be made very clear that if underwear is plastified, it is forbidden.”
Now, the question will not only be boxers or briefs but plastic or neoprene as well. Fruit of the Loom take note.
Maze most recently competed at Sunday’s World Cup super-G race in Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo. In her fifth podium place in eight races, Maze ended up finishing third at 0.86 seconds behind the winner, Lindsey Vonn (1:26.16).