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Olympic figure skating fashion
February 6, 2014 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Figure skating competition begins today in Sochi and the costumes of the competitors are sure to generate interest. No longer homemade like some of Dorothy Hamill's costumes in the 1970s, these days even notable designers like Vera Wang create them. Lists of best and worst costumes abound including on tumblr where some reviews bring the snark.
posted by pointystick (52 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Needs a review of the terrible costumes volunteers get forced to wear on the ice. Every big ice skating event, they have volunteers who skate around picking up the things people throw on the ice (stuffed animals, flowers, whatever). The people who get the job get put in really bad outfits-- I think Lillehammer was the worst I remember, but I can't seem to find pics.
posted by nat at 8:35 AM on February 6


Clothing “must be modest, dignified, and appropriate for athletic competition, not garish or theatrical in design.

ahahaha

ha









ha
posted by edgeways at 8:35 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


Oh good, I needed a reason to watch the Olympics.

fashion>sports sorrynotsorry
posted by likeatoaster at 8:37 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Wang was a skater. She designed Nancy Kerrigan's outfit, and donated it to her. The costumes have to look delicate (and make the skater look delicate) while being able to withstand the leaps, jumps, tests and falls without splitting or tearing. Not a place for wardrobe malfunctions!
posted by Ideefixe at 8:38 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Wang was a skater. She designed Nancy Kerrigan's outfit, and donated it to her.

Yep. Tonya Harding, not so much.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:42 AM on February 6


Clothing must be modest, dignified, and appropriate for athletic competition

I believe this was enacted after the reign of that commie temptress Katarina Witt. Her outfits displayed just a little too much...cheek.
posted by Ber at 8:51 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Thank god for Johnny Weir. I love his dragtastic style and the fact that it annoyed some people only makes me love him more.
posted by xingcat at 8:53 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Yeah, in the 30 for 30 documentary about Tonya Harding talked about in that previous post, she talks about a homemade costume she wore and how afterwards the judges told her to never wear anything like that again.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 9:09 AM on February 6


Big ups for 'Chelly K!

Full self-deprecating disclosure aside: For about six months I would arrive at work at around the same time as a very cordial Asian-American woman and we would ride the elevator together to our respective floors and make the kind of small-talk that people make early in the morning before they've had coffee. Then one day my coworker comes excitedly into the office and announces that she heard that Michelle Kwan was going to be working in our buliding and that she just spotted her! I said "really, I don't think I know what she looks like off hand, let's Google her and see if that's really who you saw" which, of course, brought up numerous images of my elevator buddy. Doh!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:15 AM on February 6 [4 favorites]


I am choosing to interpret the German uniform as a pro-rights protest, official denials be dammed. So far its the only thing I've seen/heard about Sochi that hasn't been terrible.
posted by samworm at 9:19 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Clothing “must be modest, dignified, and appropriate for athletic competition, not garish or theatrical in design.



Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:20 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


Basically men aren't allowed to wear tights to avoid crotch shots. "We want to keep things family-show appropriate."

Yeah, not like that vulgar and indecent Classical Ballet stuff.
posted by Kabanos at 9:24 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


Sometimes I do wish that someone would show up at Worlds in their practice wear, like a 'this sport is hard, forget the frills' kind of way. But I still think it was a mistake when ladies started wearing sequin adorned unitard. It's just so... ugh.
posted by wingless_angel at 9:37 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Not to be outdone, the Norwegian curling team is ready to make it's statement
posted by dry white toast at 9:38 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Basically men aren't allowed to wear tights to avoid crotch shots. "We want to keep things family-show appropriate."

I remember when I first saw crotch bulge. It turned me gay (I got better after chugging a beer and wrestled a bit with a wolf pack after driving my Chevy truck around with huge logs and boulders in the back).
posted by Brocktoon at 9:39 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


huge logs and boulders

so then you turned gay again, right?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:45 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Yeah it was a big day. I also saw a woman topless at the park, which made me want to listen to heavy metal and worship Satan.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:55 AM on February 6 [10 favorites]


I am choosing to interpret the German uniform as a pro-rights protest

I swear, I clicked on that link and thought that those were photos of the Beatles from the Sgt. Peppers photo shoot.
posted by yoink at 9:56 AM on February 6


I don't understand the costumes in Olympic figure skating. Are skaters judged on their outfits?
posted by orme at 10:37 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Johnny Weir FTW! He's like Loki on ice (skates).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:01 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


i hope there's lots and lots of blood and rainbows being depicted in the costumes.
posted by Conrad-Casserole at 11:05 AM on February 6


Are skaters judged on their outfits?

Of course! What else are we going to do on Meta-filter?
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:08 AM on February 6


I don't understand the costumes in Olympic figure skating. Are skaters judged on their outfits?

Yes, because it's not a real sport.
posted by The Tensor at 11:09 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Scores in figure skating are computed by factoring in country of origin in relation to the judge/outfits/perceived sexual orientation (applied to male skaters only)/likability-personality/musical selection and then maybe 10% on the actual skating.
posted by Ber at 11:14 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


So if we're gonna do the whole "hurf durf sparkles it's not a sport" ... can we acknowledge that 99% of us on Metafilter can't do any triple jumps, and whether or not you agree with the scoring, anyone competing at the world level in figure skating has a pretty remarkable body and athleticism?
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:18 AM on February 6 [14 favorites]


I don't understand the costumes in Olympic figure skating. Are skaters judged on their outfits?

You're being judged, in part, on artistic impression. There's no actual component of the scoring that is devoted to the costume, but obviously it helps if your costume is appropriate to the mood, tone and theme of the routine you're dancing. Similarly, you're not judged on the music you choose, but if your routine doesn't seem to fit the music then you're going to be marked down relative to someone who has worked out choreography that both allows them to showcase their skating skill and seems to be a thoughtful response to the music.

Yeah, it's a sport that involves elements of judgment that can't be reduced simply to measuring tapes or stopwatches (which is true, by the way, of a very large number of sports that people don't get all exercised about in this way: there are judgment calls in every team sport under the sun--which is why refs and umps are universal targets of fan outrage). If that's not your bag, fine, but I'm always a little mystified that people think it somehow reduces the whole thing to a farce.
posted by yoink at 11:22 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


orme: "I don't understand the costumes in Olympic figure skating. Are skaters judged on their outfits?"

Ideally, no, except in cases where the outfits are inappropriate in some way. In practice, because the judging is subjective, it can. For example, Surya Bonaly had an issue with being marked down because her dark skin was "unaesthetic" against the ice. So there's that sort of thing. Also, ice skating is big business and costumes are crowd-pleasers, making it a marketing concern.
posted by Karmakaze at 11:23 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Oh, how well I remember the Battle of the Brians, each one looking more like a Disney Prince than the other.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:38 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


A couple decades ago the skaters were forbidden to skate to anything but classical music. Even a film score with classical leanings was frowned upon. I have a vague memory of this Sunday free skate (where the skaters can choose their own music and perform stunts not allowed) where an Eastern Bloc male skater came out charging hard to Scorpions or GnR. His coach just had a look of pure disdain.
posted by Ber at 11:39 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


I know it wasn't an Olympic performance, but I can't think of any reason not to link to the classic Plushenko performance of Sex Bomb, replete with fake torso.
posted by sawdustbear at 11:40 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


an Eastern Bloc male skater came out charging hard to Scorpions or GnR.

If he was from the Eastern block I'd put money on the Scorpions.
posted by Hoopo at 11:51 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


The pairs skaters do triple jumps?
posted by Brocktoon at 12:01 PM on February 6


On one hand, I love that Plushenko routine. On the other hand, why do I remember it so well?

Also, pointystick, you forgot GoFugYourself's skating costume coverage! Here's 2010 Olympic ice dancing and ladies' figure skating, 2013 US figure skating championship, 2013 World figure skating championship, and the 2014 US championship.

I am totally looking forward to their olympic coverage (this is their thoughts on the US uniform).
posted by hydrobatidae at 12:17 PM on February 6 [4 favorites]


Brocktoon: Yes. Not in the ice dance, but in the pairs' program, absolutely.

...well, "absolutely" in the sense of "if they can."
posted by seyirci at 12:30 PM on February 6


A couple decades ago the skaters were forbidden to skate to anything but classical music.

I had not realized this was this was the case. I guess we have to wait another thousand years to see performances set to Sir Mix-a-lot, and his stuffy old songs about the buttocks.
posted by mrgoat at 12:51 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


A couple decades ago the skaters were forbidden to skate to anything but classical music.

I thought the rule was only instrumental music was permitted. We've had Disney soundtrack cheese and broadway hits for well over two decades.
posted by wingless_angel at 1:34 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Are skaters judged on their outfits?

They are being judged for putting on a performance. Much like how at a big-ticket rock concert, the showmanship (and outfits, etc.) still matters to the experience even though some people might think of a concert as just music.
posted by anonymisc at 1:53 PM on February 6


mrgoat: "I had not realized this was this was the case. I guess we have to wait another thousand years to see performances set to Sir Mix-a-lot, and his stuffy old songs about the buttocks."

To tide you over until then, here's Misha Ge (competing this year for Uzbekistan) performing Gangnam Style.
posted by bettafish at 2:42 PM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Yeah, it's a sport that involves elements of judgment that can't be reduced simply to measuring tapes or stopwatches (which is true, by the way, of a very large number of sports that people don't get all exercised about in this way: there are judgment calls in every team sport under the sun--which is why refs and umps are universal targets of fan outrage). If that's not your bag, fine, but I'm always a little mystified that people think it somehow reduces the whole thing to a farce.

Ex-competitive synchronized swimmer here to give yoink a 6.0 for that comment (because I still don't understand the "new" scoring that's been in place for ten years now, in which I should probably award yoink a 300).

Also, in investigating the ISU scoring system, I learned of synchronized skating, which sounds like an excellent sport for questionable costuming!
posted by catlet at 3:57 PM on February 6


Harding skated to rap by Ton-Loc and theme music from Jurassic Park. NYT 1994
posted by Ideefixe at 5:01 PM on February 6


Kerrigan got a free costume, but George Steinbrenner paid for Harding's training. Rolling Stone, 1994 Harding designed her own costumes, but she wasn't the one sewing them.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:07 PM on February 6


I never understood Kerrigan's costume back then.

I just remember thinking, -She's wearing beige. She's wearing beige. Why would she wear beige?
posted by SLC Mom at 5:54 PM on February 6


carlet... Ha, I was just reading about the scoring rule changes from the debacle of the 2002 SLC games, turns out all those fixes designed to discourage the judges from inflating the scores actually has led to about 20% more score fixing. Skaters who skate before a judge from their home country tend to place 2 postions higher on average. There has been a lot of trading favorable scores between judges of different countries, hell you'd think this was the US congress we where talking about here.

Yeah figure skating is a legit sport, but those judges are as corrupt as you can get and not be jailed.
posted by edgeways at 6:11 PM on February 6


Having difficulties viewing some links on my tab, but I assume Ilya's Rhapsody in Blue giraffe outfit made a list.
And oh lawd, why'd I have to see the DomShabs aboriginal getups again. (Didn't another Russian/European couple wear some offensive "jungle" costume for an exhibition. I wanna say maybe a French team?)
posted by NorthernLite at 8:52 PM on February 6


Or maybe I'm thinking of Yagudin's "One Bamana' program. *eek*
posted by NorthernLite at 8:59 PM on February 6


Man, I still seethe over the treatment Debi Thomas got for wearing a unitard. I'm glad they finally got rid of that stupid rule.
posted by emcat8 at 11:09 PM on February 6


If that's not your bag, fine, but I'm always a little mystified that people think it somehow reduces the whole thing to a farce.
posted by yoink at 2:22 PM on February 6


Thanks for the serious reply, yoink. I admit it isn't really my bag, but I don't consider it a farce either. I respect the skill of the skaters. Just curious about how the judging works.

I do wonder if eliminating the creative elements of the event and putting all of the focus on the skating would help ensure that the scoring was more fair.
posted by orme at 5:15 AM on February 7


Maybe they should bring back the compulsory figurures to shut the detractors up?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 5:23 AM on February 7


I say this as a person who: I truly believe that for Olympic-style routines, nine out of ten skaters should stick to the old-fashioned, simple costumes. More elaborate costumes have their place in exhibition-style skating, where they really do enhance the performance. I remember the first time I saw Debi Thomas skate in jeans (I assume they were an early form of jeggings) at an exhibition-style event, and I was practically fist-pumping. But for the majority of competitors, anything beyond the traditional costume is a distraction for the more athletic, techincally-oriented routines we see at the Olympics. Of course there are exceptions, like your Weirs and your Witts and your Kwans, who can pull off anything, in anything.

(Nota bene bene the difference between “should stick to” and “should be required to stick to.” The genie is out of the bottle and I’m not endorsing a radical dress code revision by the IOC.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:31 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I do think that Dorothy Hamill's homemade outfit beats a lot of the stuff people are wearing today.

I tend to agree with you, Underpants Monster: I also think that a day without sequins is a day not fully lived, but today's skaters could do with a detox.
posted by tel3path at 8:06 AM on February 7


I do wonder if eliminating the creative elements of the event and putting all of the focus on the skating would help ensure that the scoring was more fair.

Well, sure, but it would also mean turning it into a fundamentally different sport. If the thing you want to do is a mixture of dance and athletic prowess then it's simply not going to be possible to have objectively rigorous criteria of judgment. And that's fine. No one has to participate in the sport. If you just want to be the fastest skater in the world, there's speed skating. If you want to play a hand-eye team sport on ice, there's hockey. But figure skating and ice dancing are for people who enjoy the challenge of that aesthetic/athletic hybrid (heavier on the athletic in figure skating, heavier on the aesthetic in ice dancing).

We have competitions every day of the year for many pursuits which are purely aesthetic. There are pianist competitions, violin competitions, dance competitions, voice competitions; we have the National Book Awards, the Booker Prize, the Pulitzer Prize etc. etc. etc. Obviously there is always room for argument in the awarding of any of these prizes but if people don't, on the whole, tear themselves into a lather at the notion that there's something inherently absurd in having pianists, violinists, cellists etc. compete for a prestigious international prize I find it strange that they get so exercised over the notion that figure skaters, who are only being judged in part on aesthetic factors, should be similarly judged.
posted by yoink at 8:27 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or do all the men look like they just were attacked by a deranged fan/t-rex who tried to rip their clothes off just before they stepped onto the ice?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:37 AM on February 10


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