Six people had to be treated for hypothermia after a concert at the open-air Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang last month, and the forecast for the opening ceremony on Feb. 9 calls for temperatures hovering just above zero degrees. But Team USA athletes should be prepared for the elements in their new uniforms, which include red, white, and blue parkas outfitted with a battery-powered heating system.
The opening and closing ceremonies, as well as all of the medal ceremonies (except for hockey) will be held in arenas exposed to the cold. PyeongChang is located in one of the coldest parts of South Korea, 50 miles from the border with North Korea.
Team USA’s opening ceremony uniform, designed by Ralph Lauren, and the medal-stand uniform, created by Nike, were built with warmth in mind.
The opening ceremony jacket is equipped with a battery pack that lasts 11 hours and can be adjusted to three different heat settings. 99Degrees, an apparel manufacturer based in Lawrence’s Everett Mill, provided the technology necessary to bond the heater to the jacket’s lining without using the heavy wires most heated garments require.
The medal-stand outfit will be worn by the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes who bring home gold, silver, or bronze in PyeongChang. The uniforms are waterproof and insulated.
The 23rd Winter Olympics begins on Feb. 8 with ski jumping and curling followed by the Opening Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 9, then 102 events in 15 sports until the winter games conclude at the closing ceremony on Feb. 25. The American team will include about 240 athletes.