Toronto (SAPP) - The Canadian Olympic Team has entered a new era of competitiveness in the world of sports. Constantly trying to play catch-up to their rivals to the south, Canadian Track and Field is always yearning for that edge to beat the Americans and other dominant sprinting nations like Jamaica, the Bahamas, and the UKoGBaNI.
With a major sponsor on board to do the research for Canadian sprint athletes, the Canadian Olympic Committee has chosen to make a major change in their uniforms this year. The sponsor, Canadian Tire (TSX: CTC), is leading the way with research and development of new materials and high performance fabrics that will enhance the speed of Canadian athletes.
With four years of intense study into ways to make runners go faster, Canadian Tire and a team from Aurora College in the Northwest Territories have developed what they call "Canofab." This densely woven fabric is being touted as the most significant development in track and field since the "hammer throw" replaced the "kitten throw" in 1896.
"Back when kittens (actually full-grown cats) were thrown by their tails, there was constantly a problem with tail separation. It could get pretty messy, not to mention having to replace so many scaredy cats all the time. But what we have developed for Canada's 2012 Olympic Team will make an even bigger impact on track and field. Anyone wearing our patented Canofab suit will run 20 to 30 percent faster than their counterparts. It's the difference between not qualifying for the 100 metres and breaking a world record. I have seen a 40-year-old track coach run the 100 metres in under 10 seconds. In ankle-deep snow. It's unbelievable," says Pippa Seccombe-Helt, Director of the Aurora Research Institute.
By doing the research in the Northwest Territories (NWT), no one besides the polar bears have seen the suits until today. They are so revolutionary that the researchers and proponents have been kept secret, too. Mike Weir, the famous Canadian golfer, is one of the chief advocates of the newly designed suits. "I saw years ago the potential of golf balls. Golf balls are incredibly complex microscopically. Everyone knows how the dimples on golf balls help them fly higher and faster, but what makes these uniforms unique is the microscopic roughness of the skin. That's why some cheap balls go higher than pricey balls. It's a common practice in professional golf circles to forgo the ball washer and purposely rough up your own balls."
Using rough skin and fur from the belly of the ermine (also known as the stoat), Canadian researchers have made the Canofab's underlying layer relatively rough, a bit warm, and as white as a sheet. Ermine fur is known for being quite luxurious, however the researchers have identified that the roughest, lowest quality fur is preferred for sports racing.
On top of the ermine fur that is clipped short, the real secret of the invention stands out. Literally. "When we developed Canofab, we tried some odd combinations, mainly for fun. It gets mighty boring with no sunlight all winter in NWT. So we grabbed some golf balls, some Velcro, and little ermine that was snooping around in the garbage. When we duct taped all three of these things onto a manikin and tried them in a wind tunnel, we were shocked to learn that air resistance went almost to zero on our sensors. When we removed the Velcro, the air resistance went negative. It was like discovering the Holy Grail," says Mr. Ralph Bocce Balmer of Arctic College. The negative resistance is called "Canofabulous" by its inventors. It occurs due to a special aerodynamic lift akin to a superconducting electric current… the lift causes more lift… which causes cascading "superlift."
"The suits add a lot weight to the runners. Some of the taller men will have to carry an extra 9 kg of balls, plus the suit which weighs about 1 kg. That's an extra 22 pounds of balls to run with. But having 200 golf balls strapped to your legs, arms, and torso makes you run like a gazelle. As long as you keep the ermine fur rough, you will win any race you run. It makes the new Nike suits for Team USA look like old tires," exclaims Stephen G. Wetmore, president and CEO of Canadian Tire.
Besides the enormous amount of white golf balls stitched to each suit, there are specific instructions given to the coaches to maintain the performance advantage of the athletes. Before each race, the coach or a trainer must coat the suit with a special substance that keeps the ermine fur rough. The ingredients of the special coating are being kept secret for now, as it is the only thing not disclosed on the patent.
"It's tire grease. Or that's what it smells like," says one track coach who wished to remain anonymous. "It's like the stuff you put on a tire to seat it on the rim except it is white. It goes on like butter on popcorn, and then we dry it off with red shop towels. It leaves the skin rough and shiny."
Rumors abound as to its composition. The stench is said to repulse competitors who are not used to its smell. But one of the main drawbacks of the suit is that it can cause runners to tire out quicker. Not unlike a weight suit, smaller sprinters can be burdened by the Canofab suits. "I feel like the Michelin Man. And I look like a Titleist commercial. And when I run, I feel Canadian tired. And why is everything white? I am competing in the summer Olympics, not for the luge. And for that ball lube or whatever they put on us, it just makes me sneeze," says Ferty Herty Malerty, female track star for Canada. (We made her name up, because Canada doesn't have any female track stars. She is a composite of a bunch of women we dated in college. - Ed.)
"We will finally live down that dopey Ben Johnson who lost all of his metals," says Olympic coach Ben Johnson (not related to the guy he is referring to, who was as fast as his meds would take him). Every one of our athletes will break the world record at the Olympics in London this year. The only thing I am afraid of is imitators." Already, Nike is said to be researching new outfits for Team USA. But they have a steep uphill battle. Canadian training has paid off, since no one really cared to follow any of their races or coaching this year, the whole team has been quietly training above the Arctic Circle with their shiny, white, ball suits. The team is predicted to win 16 men's events and 14 women's events at the Summer Olympics in London. The winners' nicknames will be the Canadian "Ermine Balls of Gold."