Every four years, whoever is in charge of making sporting equipment for the various countries that compete in the Winter Olympiad get a chance to properly clad the athletes lucky enough to be selected to represent their countries in attire both appropriate and comfortable for their chosen sport.
And since 2010, we turn to spine-bendingly large sportswear conglomerate Nike to bring us gear specifically to be worn for ice hockey, as we are a blog dedicated to it.
Nike has...not shown up ready for primetime.
Last Olympics one of the big problems every jersey faced was the fact it was built primarily on a problem Nike had and still has: poor fabric choices, lack of individuality, lazy templating...the works. Each jersey looked like a carbon copy of the next, just with slightly different coloration. To the point where in some games (especially USA and Slovakia, who share uniform colors) people had a hard time figuring out who was playing.
But those Olympics came and went, the jerseys...were at the very least a form of boring one could accept and accept most of these countries did.
But this time...oh, this time. Nike has done something...very...very bad.
Nike has done something heinous:
Two of these I can say with confidence are probably some of the worst hockey jerseys I have ever laid eyes on, and I have seen the old Texas-CHL jerseys. One of them had pinstripes. It was awful.
But none were ever this bad.
Because y’know something? Those were made in the throes of the late-90’s and made exclusively for the X-TREEM crowd that still hung about at the time to fill 40-3,000 seater community arenas in Texas. This? This is going to be at the winter olympics. The highest level of competition in the sport possible. You cannot end up making both the same mistake that marred the last edition of jerseys (Lazy Templating), and somehow MAKE ANOTHER EVEN WORSE ONE. What is all this gradiented, late-90’s-third-jersey-for-a-bad-expansion-team-nonsense!? What did they do to the US!? What did they do to Norway? You’re making Korea come out looking like that!?
No. Nuh-uh. If you’re gonna throw your nostalgia reject projects out on the ice, then the world at least needs an opposing viewpoint that recognizes some of the history and glory that these teams deserve at the grandest stage of them all in PyeongChang. At least aesthetically.
I have been burdened with glorious purpose, and for this...I bring you a re-do of the 2018 Winter Olympics jerseys, by group. Starting with A, and that means we start with....
I admit I’ve never quite understood why Black, a color that was introduced in the 2000’s, has permeated so many of Team Canada’s sweaters since then. But...It’s gotta be there apparently, so on it goes.
In general, Canada should be like many of these sweaters: Simple, clean, no BS. It’s the country that created the sport, after all. Obnoxious Template #1 with all that gradienting just looks...wrong.
We’re going old school and classy.
This is how Canada should look. Across all forms of competition. Timeless, and beautiful.
Even if they keep bringing a color not on their flag to the party.
Team Czech Republic:
The Czechs admittedly get out better than most, as they get template B: no gradients, just an obnoxious, half-finished bicep-stripe that fell out of the early 90’s favorite generic plastic cup and onto an olympic hockey jersey.
Well, I did away with that, and instead looked into the Czech past. Admittedly, it is not a long past, but it is a good one, taking some minor inspiration from the 1994 and 1998 teams. With that, you get the following:
It should be noted that a bunch of these names on the back are just captains who were listed as captains of the mens teams and women’s teams (if they’re fielding one). I had no idea who these teams are sending. But as you can see, I tried to make sure there was balance on these jerseys, which is ultimately the problem: Without waist stripes...or in some cases, stripes at all, there really isn’t much balance. The Nike designs look like bad, X-TREEM practice jerseys.
The swiss still have to deal with the goofy bicep stripe, but they’re one of the few teams to get away with a half-decentish sweater. One you could maybe say you’d be okay wearing in public.
But what if we took “okay enough”, simplified it and said “Now THAT’S an idea.” As it turns out, I had a moment of inspiration on the matter, and funnily enough, it came from watching the enemy.
Honestly, I’m amazed the Swiss haven’t done this before. Their flag is super simple, their coat of arms (that they’re using as a logo, by-the-by), is just as simple, and it feels like this configuration using these elements (single stripe, no frills) should’ve existed a long time ago.
BTW, The Swiss nickname is a super-lame pun that only makes sense in German that I admit to only getting while making this. I am not proud of that.
Team South Korea/Team Korea:
I didn’t exactly like Nike’s idea for South Korea’s jersey when I saw it, but it was far from the worst of the set...and then I read Nike’s idea of an excuse on the matter. And that’s what set me off.
...Hosts South Korea makes its tournament debut in a jersey featuring a distinctive graphic pattern representative of the nation’s unique architecture on the sleeves, and a font and number system inspired by origami. -Nike’s website on the jerseys
Alright...I’ll bite. What architecture are you referring to, exactly. The palaces around Seoul? The Pagodas? Because, if I’m being honest, they’re not these giant, multi-tiered things that the current sweater promises. At most, they’re maybe two (admittedly impressive and huge) tiers tall sitting on enormous stone foundations. The one’s you’re thinking of...are Japanese.
Origami, for the other thing...is also Japanese. The Korean art regarding paper is not like Origami. At all.
To put it in perspective; this would be like saying you got inspired to make Finland’s sweater by making it Blue and Gold and putting three crowns on the front instead of “Suomi”.
Korean fans deserve better. Their team has climbed into the top rung of IIHF sanctioned challenges and does not deserve Nike putting in the bare minimum of effort. And so I dug as deep as I could and found at least a few half-decent references I could use to build a better Korean hockey jersey:
And guess what? I didn’t even need to add anything stereotypically east-asian to it to make it look solid. Being not-ignorant is easy, if you actually put some care and effort into it! And guess what? Even that takes like ten minutes. At most!
Oh, and as many of my white sweaters are intended as stand-ins for the women’s team, I decided that both flags that fly over the Korean Peninsula got the point across.
With this group done, I continue my quest to make each team stand out again. Join us next time for Group B, and my attempt at fixing Russia, Slovenia, Slovakia...and yes, the good ol’ US of A.
Until next time...don’t give Nike your money.