The 2018 Winter Olympics have officially kicked off, and I would like to congratulate our very own Florida Olympians who made the journey to PyeongChang, South Korea to compete, including hockey player Brandon Maxwell and long track speed skaters Erin Jackson, Joey Mantia, Mia Manfanello and Brittany Bowe.
Thanks to many technological innovations since the start of the winter games in 1924, Florida athletes can compete in a wide variety of cold weather sports without being disadvantaged. For example, innovations from sportswear manufacturer Under Armor and defense contractor Lockheed Martin have produced incredible aerodynamic uniforms worn by our four Florida speed skaters and Samsung has developed a “SmartSuit” which helps these skaters improve their movements and posture by transmitting data while the athlete is practicing.
It is partly through a renaissance in the American energy industry, like oil and natural gas, that these powerful innovations are possible. These resources help create textiles, plastics, ceramics and other fibers that equipment like ice skates, snowboards, hockey pucks and bobsleds are comprised of. Energy is also used to power the Olympic Torch, a favorite tradition among participants and spectators alike. Through innovations, the torch has gone through many improvements. What began as merely a bundle of burning fennel sticks was made better through technological advances. Today, the torch is carried thousands of miles over ground, air and sea. Even more impressive is that the torch has been passed off via suspension cable, satellite and even underwater. This is all only possible through developments in advanced energy production and technology.
On larger scale, energy created by oil and natural gas is used to light the arenas, warm athletes and power the expansive broadcasting equipment used by TV stations from around the world. It powers the vehicles that get our athletes to their events, Zambonis that smooth the ice and the ski lifts that take our team into the mountains.
In the event of a photo finish, oil and natural gas products, like precision clocks and frame-by-frame video equipment, will help officials determine who will take home the gold medal.
With all these new technologies created in the last few years alone, I can only imagine what we will be able to do over the next few decades. Natural gas and oil are essential for making these innovations possible by powering new ideas, the economy, manufacturing, our communities and environmental progress all at the same time.
We must ensure we have a balanced energy supply, both in Florida and across the country, to remain competitive in terms of fueling our athletes and their ability to train and compete. Additionally, this approach will help continue to fuel the economy, jobs, manufacturing and technological innovations.
So, while we watch our favorite athletes compete and cheer on Team USA, let us also take a moment to remember all of the innovative technologies that allowed them to make it to this point in their careers and the important role energy plays in making their dreams possible.
Julio Fuentes is the President and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce