With the 2014 Winter Olympics now 100 days away, the hype is building for the Olympic debut of freeskiing halfpipe and slopestyle in Sochi. As part of the celebration, The North Face, who will be outfitting the United States freeskiing team during the Olympics, has unveiled the patriotic uniforms that you'll see sported by Tom Wallisch, Maddie Bowman and the rest of the U.S. team when they compete for medals at the Sochi Games.
A member of The North Face freeskiing team with some custom pieces of outerwear to his credit already, Wallisch was one of the athletes - along with Maddie Bowman and Devin Logan - instrumental in the development of the uniforms, providing input on the performance of the gear while also helping shape the style. With style being so important to the freeskiing culture, a theme of "Rebel Americana" was selected for the design as a nod to the sport's rebellious heritage, and several different colored prototypes were tested against the snow to find the most eye-popping combination.
One of the gold medal favorite for Sochi, Tom Wallisch says he "could not be more excited with how [the uniforms] turned out"
The North Face has been supporting freeskiing over the last ten years and this year will become an official partner of the Dew Tour. The Dew Tour's iON Mountain Championships return to Breckenridge December 12-15 and will be the first of five USSA selection events that will help determine the rosters of snowboarding and freeskiing athletes that will represent the United States in Sochi.
For more details on the development on the U.S. Freeskiing team uniforms, check out the below release.
ALAMEDA, Calif. (Oct. 29, 2013) – The North Face, partner of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and original partner of U.S. Freeskiing, today unveiled the official 2014 U.S. Freeskiing Competition uniforms, which will be worn by United States freeskiing athletes when the sport makes its historic debut at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
“We are proud to have teamed up with the USSA and U.S. Freeskiing to create one of the most advanced and unique uniform collections for our U.S. athletes to proudly wear in Sochi,” said Aaron Carpenter, vice president of global marketing for The North Face.
The uniforms were tested by top freeskiing athletes, including Tom Wallisch, Maddie Bowman, Devin Logan and John Teller throughout The North Face research, design and development process. Wallisch, Bowman and Logan, who are all members of The North Face global athlete roster, provided both technical and style-related input.
Halfpipe contender Maddie Bowman shows off the "Rebel Americana" uniforms
“These athletes know better than anyone what they need to feel and perform their best during competition, and because style is such a key part of freeskiing, we wanted to make sure we were not only addressing key technical aspects of the uniform, but also the confidence and inspiration that comes with stand-out style,” Carpenter said.
In partnership with the athletes, The North Face established a specific style guide for the uniforms developed for all three freeskiing disciplines – halfpipe, slopestyle and skicross – with the common creative filters of athlete culture, equipment innovation and pride of country. The uniforms were inspired by a “Rebel Americana” theme to capture the spirit of U.S. Freeskiing’s rich history and rebellious, counter-culture attitude. Unique details were also woven in to provide athletes with additional inspiration and a deeper connection to each other and the competitive moment, including a piece of a Himalayan suit worn on an Everest expedition in the shape of a star, a nod to the rich outdoor heritage of The North Face, embroidered with the phrase “Bigger Than Me.” Additional details include laser-cut stars in the velcro on the cuffs of each jacket and the uniforms’ suspender system, a staple piece of apparel for many freeskiers on the mountain, which forms a peace sign if you were to place a circle around it.
The U.S. Freeskiing competition uniforms were designed and manufactured in the U.S. at a development center not far from The North Face headquarters in Alameda, CA. The company invested in the local development center to keep prototyping close to home and celebrate the U.S. throughout the athlete uniform manufacturing process.
“There is a lot of pride that goes along with being able to produce the uniforms in our backyard and to work with people in our community to be a part of this process,” said The North Face Action Sports Product Director Jasmin Ghaffarian. “With all the technical aspects and unique elements like the piece from our expedition-worn Everest Himalayan suit, we felt a lot of personal passion throughout the uniform process, and producing the outerwear in the United States adds an extra level of patriotic pride and ownership.”
The North Face used a variety of industry-leading approaches to research, design and development, including wind, color and product testing. The uniforms underwent color testing with several of The North Face athletes in early 2012 at Mt. Hood, which allowed the brand to not only gather athlete feedback on initial sketches, but also have them test out different colored prototypes against the snow to best determine the right color combination to help them standout in competition. The athletes’ insight on both style and performance throughout the various rounds of prototype development was key in the development of the extremely technical uniforms.
“I have been working with The North Face for many years, and even have some of my own custom pieces of outerwear in their stores, but working with them to design the uniform that our team will wear during the debut competition was something I was truly honored to be a part of,” said The North Face athlete and U.S. Olympic Freeskiing hopeful Tom Wallisch. “I could not be more excited with how they turned out, and I am sure that the freeskiing community will feel the same way.”