SOCHI, Russia – American ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani explained what happened with the embarrassing wardrobe malfunction that disrupted their long program at the Winter Olympics on Monday night.
Maia's dress somehow became attached to her brother's costume during a lift midway through their free dance, causing her tights to snag and rip apart. She showed reporters in the interview zone afterward the extent of the damage – the tights were torn virtually the entire way around her right leg.
The Shibutanis had to improvise in order for her to come free without needing to be set down on the ice, which would have incurred another deduction.
[Photos: Sochi Olympics ice dancing: free dance]
"When I tried to come down again, it got stuck," Maia said. "We had two options: put the lift down and wait four seconds or do what we did and get through it."
Alex had to quickly come up with a way to get his sister loose without interfering with the performance. He managed to do so to earn them a score of 90.70 for a total of 155.17, good for ninth place. Fellow Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won gold, with Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir claiming silver and Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov capturing bronze.
With the amount of training and preparation that goes into making it to the Games, the unexpected mishap was heartbreaking for the siblings, who live and train in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"Up until that point everything was good," Alex said. "We just had to get through it rather than just stopping and putting our hands up and starting over, which wasn't an option. We wish we could have performed better, but nothing about this performance changes our impression of ourselves.
"That's life and that's sport. That's what makes us sports fans. You have to go out there and compete and perform. We are fierce in that regard. Today, unfortunately, things didn't shuffle up the way we wanted to."
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