Was One Skier’s Underwear Too Slick?

When Slovene World Cup Alpine skier Tina Maze opened her racing suit Sunday to reveal her sports bra beneath to all those looking on in Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy, it wasn’t some kind of sexy strip show or joyous Brandi Chastain type of moment.

It was a protest.

Over a fuss being made about her underwear.

Not the bra, mind you, or the words she had written on it: “Not your business.”

Rather, the message she wanted to send was that skiing authorities shouldn’t be worried about whether the full body stocking she had worn under her suit during a previous race — when she came in second — gave her some sort of special advantage.

But there is indeed controversy over whether that underwear, which generated a complaint from the Swiss ski federation and has been confiscated and tested, might somehow have made Maze just a tiny bit more wind resistant than her competitors. It seems, as The New York Times has explained, that the material in the underwear contained some plastic. If that helped keep any wind from passing through her suit and instead sent it around her, Maze might have gotten a bit of an advantage.

And in the supercompetitive world of World Cup Alpine skiing, every miniscule bit of time is precious, as SKI Magazine editor in chief Greg Ditrinco explained earlier today to All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

“The difference between first place and fifth place can be a matter of hundredths of a second,” Ditrinco said.

So far, tests seem to show that Maze’s suit was permeable enough to be allowed, the International Ski Federation has said. But its officials still want new, clearer rules on what is and isn’t acceptable.

More from Robert’s conversation with Ditrinco is due on today’s All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, we’ll add the as-broadcast interview to the top of this post.

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