Team USA looking good on and off the field of play
Never before have hockey players looked so good.
On the bus on their way to scrimmage Japan, their final scrimmage before the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games begin, the USA team splayed out across the seats decked out in Nike track jackets, Ralph Lauren hooded jackets and "pom pom beanies." Not to be left out the coaches were wearing matching navy Ralph Lauren down jackets.
And then there was winger Taylor Lipsett.
Standing and striking a pose in his seat prompted the cat calls.
"How do I look?" he asked. Lipsett is wearing a navy half-zip sweater with red accents, a red plaid-flannel scarf neatly tied around his neck and tucked into the sweater, and a navy driving cap.
"You look like a model for Ralph Lauren," came the reply from the back of the bus amidst the laughter.
Team USA came to Vancouver with all the tools necessary to dress for success. Each athlete was given three suitcases full of Nike and Polo Ralph Lauren gear. The more sporty Nike gear ranges from t-shirts to rugby shirts and track suits, while the Polo gear includes a multitude of sweaters--crew neck with moose on them, half-zip and turtleneck--jackets, hats, and, of course, polo shirts.
The hockey team landed in Vancouver last Saturday and Lipsett claims he has yet to wear the same article of clothing twice.
"And I've been wearing layers," he said, to further stress how much clothing they were given.
Polo Ralph Lauren is also providing the closing and opening ceremonies apparel, a classy mix of knitted caps, cable-knit turtleneck sweaters, down jackets and boots.
The arrangement of such pieces into a perfectly put together outfit may be complicated for some athletes more accustomed to chest protectors, helmets and hockey sweaters.
In anticipation of this, and with a certain aesthetic in mind, Polo Ralph Lauren has also issued a two page pamphlet with instructions on how to properly don the ceremony clothes. The pamphlet explains which buttons of the jacket to button, how to fold the collar of your turtleneck for a "soft roll" and how to tuck your pant legs into your sock ("the pant leg should be tucked fully into the socks with no slouching at the calf"). The goal is to look like a stylish skier in the Swiss Alps circa 1950.
The overall effect should turn heads throughout the games as athletes from other countries stare at the designer labels draped off Americans shoulders.
"I'm jealous," said Aron Anderson, a winger on the Swedish sled hockey team. "I would trade all of my apparel for one item of Ralph Lauren clothing."
As he poses on the bus, Lipsett looks as if he could be racing vintage roadsters through the French countryside, scarf trailing in the wind.
The image quickly fades as Lipsett races across the ice with the rest of Team USA, shutting out Japan in their final tune-up. However good they look getting to the game, these hockey players want to look even better during the game.