We all expect to see Olympians competing in outdoor sports donning the coolest sunglasses on the planet. Take your average skier, for example. Sunglasses are a necessary part of that sport due to the potential of snow blindness. But what about speedskaters? Why have we seen so many of them at the 2018 Winter Games wearing them?
Olympic Eyewear, a Salt Lake City-based designer and wholesaler of sunglasses, explains there are very legitimate reasons for donning sunglasses at the rink. They say that speedskaters wear sunglasses as much for safety is anything else. Below is an explanation, by way of the top five reasons speed skaters wear sunglasses during practice and competition.
Reason #1: Avoiding Dry Eyes
Competitive speedskating is broken down into two main categories: short and long track. Regardless of the particular discipline an athlete competes in, both long and short track speedskating have one thing in common: speed.
It is not unheard of for speedskaters to consistently skate at speeds of up to 30 mph. This subjects the eyes to a constant flow of air that can easily dry them out, and years of competitive skating can actually cause eye damage. Therefore, speedskaters wear eye protection to help them avoid dry eyes.
Reason #2: Protection against Ice Chips
With all those athletes slinging themselves around the rink on extremely sharp blades, there are bound to be ice chips flying through the air during the heat of competition. A good pair of sunglasses with thick safety lenses offers the protection these athletes need. Trust what they say when they talk about ice chips causing significant eye injuries. It is a real thing.
Reason #3: Dealing with the Glare
We all know that glare is a problem for outdoor winter sports. Believe it or not, it is a problem on the rink as well. Unlike hockey players and figure skaters who have plenty of opportunities to look up and away from the ice, speedskaters almost always fix their gaze on the skating surface. They spend more time looking at the ice than anywhere else. As such, glare can be a problem.
A good pair of polarized sunglasses reduces glare and makes speedskating more comfortable. Just reducing glare alone can make a skater a lot more competitive.
Reason #4: Protection During Collisions
Speedskaters are subject to collisions and falls. And just like ice chips can cause eye injuries, so can collisions. Speedskaters wear sunglasses to protect their eyes from flailing elbows, knees, and other body parts that may make themselves apparent during a collision with another skater.
Reason #5: The Intimidation Factor
Last but not least is the intimidation factor. Let’s face it, it is a lot more intimidating looking at your opponent when you can’t see his or her eyes. Cover the eyes and you take away the human element. Like other athletes, speedskaters understand this all too well.
A pair of dark sunglasses makes an opponent look more intimidating. It is as simple as that. After all the safety and health concerns are out of the way, some speedskaters choose their sunglasses based on how intimidating they look. Whatever is necessary in the name of competition, right?
We should note that there are those speedskaters who wear clear lenses rather than tinted shades. There are others who wear no sort of eye protection of all. The reality is that rules do not stipulate whether skaters must don eyewear or not. Among those who do, there are very legitimate reasons for the practice.