The most popular sport at the Winter Olympics is figure skating. It’s no surprise since it combines artistic ballet-type maneuvers and astounding athletic performances with captivating costumes. Everything is carefully planned and rehearsed to perfection: the jumps, the lifts, the music, and the color-coordinated outfits.
To be successful impressing the judges, skaters not only must perform their routines according to the rules, but they must also carefully select the music, choreography, and outfits.
The choice of costume must be suitable for the music. It should show the skater’s body line, and demonstrate careful thought was given to the selection. The right outfit not only impresses the judges, but it can also impact the skater’s performance by boosting self-esteem and confidence.
A few figure skaters enjoy going all-out with their ensembles. However, this creativity isn't always effective, and while their athletic prowess might be unquestionable, some Olympians' costumes are so outrageous they can distract from their performances.
Here are twenty figure skaters who probably regretted their choice of outfit.
20 Domnina and Shabalin's Aboriginal Outfits Denounced
Russia's world champion figure skaters, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, made a poor choice of outfit for their dance routine, and the impact was felt by more than just the judges.
The skaters took to the ice at the European skating championships in Estonia in brown costumes adorned with green leaves and white geometric motifs. The pair were accused of "co-opting" Aboriginal symbols and "ripping off" Aboriginal culture.
19 Tanith Belbin's Red Dress Pushes Limits
The regulations for figure skaters are a bit vague, having changed in recent years to permit more flexibility. However, ISU Championship rules state that figure skater outfits must adhere to the following: “The clothing must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for the discipline.”
Tanith Belbin's revealing red dress, and Benjamin Agosto's open plunging neckline pushed the boundaries of the dress code.
18 Stripes, Bright Pink and Yellow, Don’t Work
The combination of bright pink and two shades of yellow with black and white stripes worn by the Czech Republic's Martin Bidar and Anna Duskova is just to “busy” to make a positive impression on the judges.
Watching the stripes on these two outfits can make the observer dizzy. Maybe that was the intention: disorient the judges, so they miss any small errors in the routine and award a high score?
17 “Pretty in Pink” is Not Always Pretty
Color choices are subjective, but according to thetrendspotter.net, “Nothing says spring more than pastels. Soft pinks and blues may sound subtle, but when styled in the right way, they can be as eye-catching as a bright pop of color. This color combination will remind you of the soft scent of jasmine and a warm spring breeze.”
However, the pink unitard worn by Aliona Savchenko is a bit overwhelming. Perhaps a pink top with blue pants would have been a better choice.
16 Feathers and Sequins Together
Tatsuki Machida of Japan chose both feathers and sequins together for his outfit. One or the other by themselves usually works, but the combination creates a conflict.
In this photo, the scattered feathers blowing in the breeze make Tatsuki look like a half-plucked chicken running to escape the inevitable cook’s pot.
15 Evgenia Tarasova’s Yellow Polka-Dot Dress
According to carriecolbert.com, wearing polka-dots is OK with just about any attire, and the wearer shouldn’t “worry too much because there aren’t really any rules when wearing polka dots.”
However, Minnie Mouse wears a polka-dot bow between her big ears. Perhaps Vladimir Morozov thought a similarly colored tie would be fun and quirky, but it's over-the-top when paired with Evgenia Tarasova's yellow polka-dot dress.
14 Las Vegas Style
Clowns typically dress in exaggerated outfits, including oversized clothing with a black and white checkered pattern.
It is not clear what inspired Italy's Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek to wear these half-checkered outfits with red buttons. Perhaps the idea came from a recent vacation in Las Vegas, a visit to a traveling circus, or an imaginary fall into the rabbit hole of Alice In Wonderland?
13 Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje In Fishnet
In a pairs figure skating “throw jump,” the male partner tosses the female into the air on take-off to perform one half to multiple revolutions before landing without assistance. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje chose to perform their jumps with her wearing a dazzling fishnet blouse while he wore Canada's more traditional (and boring) red shirt.
But who watches the male anyway, when the female performs most of the jumps?
12 Ice dancer Yura Min Terrified
Sometimes it is not the style or color choice of an outfit that a figure skater might regret, but it’s the durability of the fabric and its stitching that causes concern.
Ice dancers Yura Min of South Korea and Alexander Gamelin experienced an almost tragic wardrobe malfunction in the Olympic team competition but continued to finish in ninth place.
Min said afterward, "I was like 'oh no, if that comes undone, the whole thing could just pop off. I was terrified [for] the entire program."
11 Loose Fringe and Beading Risky
While Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder looked stunning in their classical tuxedo with tails and sheer white dress with detachable fringe and beading, the couple took a big risk.
Had any of the beads or fringe come loose, the pair would have faced deductions. Skating on smooth ice is difficult enough but sliding over small objects can cause unpredictable results.
10 Ripped Open Outfits
Although the color of Russian skaters Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov’s arresting black outfits with red fabric wrapped around their bodies go well with his naturally red hair, the shirt is unusual and perhaps a rules violation.
It had a plunging neckline to his waist and looked like it had been ripped open on his left side. Perhaps Evgenia should have died her hair red for the performance, and then the judges might not have noticed the outfits.
9 Only the Hooks Keep the Dress Up
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France experience a wardrobe failure while competing in the Olympics short program.
Pat Pearsall, designer of dresses for U.S. figure skater Mirai Nagasu, attributed the malfunctions to possible inexperience by the costume design makers. She also noted that Gabriella’s garment was a halter top that requires a specific closure.
“The only thing that keeps that halter dress up is that neck,’’ she said. “Those hooks, whatever that closure is at the back of the neck, is the only thing that keeps the entire dress up."
8 Cheerleader Pom Poms Double as an Outfit
Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin are ice dancers who have numerous awards to their credit but don’t always make the best outfit decisions.
It looks like Alexandra rummaged through her closets at home and pulled out some pom poms she used as a cheerleader in high school. A few stitches and a plain ice dancing dress is converted into a “fight song” attire that no doubt, reminded all the judges of the "good ol' days."
7 Star Trek Outfit for Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu
Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu claimed victory in the men's individual competition despite his Star Trek outfit.
He may have shouted “Beam me up, Scotty,” during some of the jumps in his routine to help him perform them flawlessly. Few people can name the title to the music he used for his performance but had he played the theme from Star Trek, everyone would have remembered.
6 The Disappearing Outfit
Perhaps Spain's Felipe Montoya's strategy to win his event was to disappear by wearing an outfit that blended perfectly with the ice in the background. If the judges couldn’t see him or any small errors in his routine, they couldn’t deduct any points. He should have finished with a perfect score.
5 Geek Outfits Don’t Belong on the Ice
Everybody loves geeks. They design and develop the latest computer technology that makes everyone’s lives fascinating and more comfortable. They fix electronic equipment when it fails even though they speak a language most people don’t understand.
Geeks are essential, but they don’t belong on the ice. Most of them are not athletic (by choice). Florent Amodio of France thought otherwise, so he wore a geek outfit to impress the judges or convince the spectators that geeks can do things other than program computers.
4 Madison Chock and Evan Bates Conflicting Outfits
While the feathers, fringes, and other design elements of U.S. figure skater Madison Chock’s outfit scream for attention, her partner, Evan Bates, disappears with his banal black ensemble.
The contrasting outfits suggest that the judges and the audience should focus on Madison’s performance, and Evan is just present to throw her into her jumps.
3 Simpler is Not Always Better
Figure skating is famous for its bedazzled, exaggerated, and occasionally crazy costumes, but there are exceptions. Robin Sharma once wrote, “Never overlook the power of simplicity.” Although it is a valid slogan for many situations, it’s not universal.
American figure skater Nathan Chen thought “simpler is better” when he performed in a grey turtleneck with a white panel and sleeve. The outfit left judges and spectators wondering: where is the artistic glamour?
2 A Medieval Knight on Skates
German skater Paul Fentz's medieval outfit should have conjured up images of a “knight in shining armor,” or perhaps Sir Lancelot leading the twelve “Knights of the Round Table.”
However, the drab attire did nothing to uplift his routine or make it memorable to the judges. A fire-breathing dragon costume might have been more effective.
1 Sarah Meier Flesh-Colored Torso
While most female figure skaters wear outfits that intentionally give the impression of exposed parts of the body, they are usually covered in flesh-colored material and comply with ISU rules.
Sarah Meier skirted the regulations when she wore a one-piece outfit made with a flesh-colored side panel that created the illusion of a mostly bare torso.
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, businessinsider.com, rulesofsport.com, theguardian.com