When it comes to Winter Olympics fashion, no outfits are as memorable as the ones worn by figure skaters. Katarina Witt’s showgirl-inspired costume in the 1988 Calgary Games, which resembled a strange and flamboyant combination of Big Bird and the Cookie Monster, left quite a lasting impression. In fact, the outfit prompted officials to create the “Katarina Rule,” which requires female skaters to cover their hips and butt. Even Nancy Kerrigan’s simple gold dress designed by Vera Wang worn during the 1994 Olympics is still talked about.
Many figure skating fashion choices are made for aesthetic reasons and add a level of showmanship to the routine. But some practices are a little more obscure, and the reasoning may not be so obvious. For instance, why do so many elite figure skaters insist on wearing their nude-colored tights over their skates?
Courtney Hicks, a gold medalist at the 2013 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, told Yahoo Sports that she usually wears her tights over her figure skates because it elongates her legs, which gives the effect of more elegant lines. She also said that the tights cover her beat-up skates.
But some skaters disagree. Samantha Cesario, who finished eighth in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, told Yahoo Sports that she is “not a big fan of tights over boots. Figure skates are so cute, why cover them?”
In addition to the style, wearing tights over figure skates serves a practical purpose -- to keep the figure skater from tripping over her own laces, which could be as painful as it would be embarrassing during an Olympics competition.
Figure skating events at the Sochi Games will take place between Feb. 6 and Feb. 20.