Driving home today I heard NPR roll out a teaser about an upcoming story - a skier in trouble for...wait for it...wearing plastic underwear.
Unfortunately I didn't get to hear the story but it is on the NPR website.
Briefly, Slovene World Cup Alpine skier Tina Maze had her full-body stocking (worn under her ski suit) confiscated by the International Ski Federation (FIS). Apparently, those nice, neutral folks from the Swiss Ski Federation accused Ms. Maze of wearing plastic undergarments in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.
I know what you're thinking...how could plastic underwear aid a downhill skier? Honestly? I don't understand the technical parts of this sport so I'll just present exhibit A:
Competition suits and clothing worn underneath, such as underwear, etc.,may not be plasticised or treated by any chemical means (gaseous, liquid or solid) and must have a minimum permeability of 30 litres per m2/sec. [Specifications for Competition Equipment and Commercial Markings - Edition 2011/2012; Section 5]
I know most of my ardent readership won't have time to pour over the entire fifty-four page tome dedicated to keeping the playing field, er slopes, of professional skiers everywhere level. But obviously, the Swiss believe that those sneaky Slovenes, to whit, one Ms. Tina Maze, has secretly plasticized her under-suit-garments in an effort to gain more velocity.
SKI Magazine Editor-in-Chief Greg Ditrinco related to Robert Siegel on NPR's All things Considered how the difference between fifth place and first place can be measured in hundredths of seconds. I'm no mathematician but it sounds to me like if downhill skiing were the Kentucky Derby, the first five horses would cross the finish line - at least to the naked eye - in a virtual dead heat. So naturally, the FIS wants to make sure the rules are clear. And thanks to Mr. Ditrinco, I now know that air penetrating the outer suit will create drag as it permeates any undergarments; whereas air that is caused to flow around the skier, say, by plastic underwear, would create less drag and therefor give said skier a scientifically measurable advantage over the competition.
Fox Sports reports that although FIS President Gian Franco Kasper has agreed Ms. Maze's undergarments passed muster with regard to permeability the underwear should not be worn because it might contain some plastic parts that could prevent a body from breathing.
I'm sure the Swiss were merely concerned that Ms. Maze's fabric wasn't breathable and was thus a hazard to her health. Kaspar went on to say that, "We have to change our rules. It has to be made very clear — if (underwear) is plastified, it is forbidden."
Let me refer you back to Exhibit A. What on earth is not clear about, "...must have a minimum permeability of 30 litres per m2/sec."?
I know Alpine skiing isn't the top priority on everyone's list but could it be that, like Ms. Maze herself believes, everyone is making a tad too much of this?
C'mon Tina, tell them what you really think...