After hitting the bottom of the slopes, two-time gold medalist Ted Ligety surprised viewers during his training run. He pulled up his goggles to reveal that his face was covered in USA-branded blue tape.
He wasn't the only alpine skier wearing tape on the nose or cheeks. Many Olympians at the Jeongseon Alpine Center combated the cold by throwing KT Tape over exposed skin, hoping to gain a little bit of protection against the elements. Yup. It's so cold that they're resorting to putting tape on their faces to warm up.
It's been cold in Pyeongchang, but those cold temperatures are even more biting when you're flying down a hill like the alpine skiers or left exposed for a prolonged time like athletes in the biathlon, who are doing the same thing. You may have seen a similar cover at work with the Czech Republic's Veronika Vitkova or Japan's Sari Furuya in the biathlon.
"We did not know or expect that it was going to be used on skiers' faces. That's not the intended use for KT Tape," KT Tape chief marketing officer Russ Schleiden told Thrillist. "We have not recommended, and we have not researched or tested using it for frostbite prevention or cold prevention."
That may change though. The company is partners with nine of the national governing bodies for sport inside the US. "It's something we're going to start to evaluate because obviously, we've seen a number of the athletes over there wearing it now," Schleiden said
Additionally, they haven't recommended it because it's probably going to hurt coming off. Schleiden says KT Tape Pro can last four to seven days on an athlete's skin. So, ripping it off after a few hours probably won't feel great. "When you go to take the tape off, especially from a sensitive area... you want to soak it in baby oil or mineral oil. It will come off much, much easier, but it's going to be sensitive."
If you keep seeing it on the slopes, it might mean that whatever protection it provides is worth it for the pain of tearing it off your face.