For those interested, here is a picture of the controversial vent on the back of the USA Olympic speedskating “skinsuit.” That’s a significantly larger opening than what I’d first imagined when I started hearing about a “vent.” I was looking for a little slit somewhere, maybe in the armpit. I’m no expert, but this certainly looks like something that could interfere with the smooth flow of air over the suit.
In a sport where thousandths of a second count, the athletes thought (or maybe just hoped) their slow times and poor finishes might be due to this vent. The first idea was to put some sort of patch over the vent (with approval of officials), but the team subsequently decided to just go back to their old suits with smooth closed backs. No improvement in performance has been noted since the change was made. Nor did I expect one. But it was worth a try.