Emotional ice dancer on wardrobe malfunction: 'It was my worst nightmare'

Dan WetzelColumnist
Yahoo Sports

GANGNEUNG, South Korea – With tears streaming down her face, a clearly embarrassed Gabriella Papadakis stopped to speak to reporters about a wardrobe malfunction that briefly exposed her live on international television and plagued her short program ice dance with partner Guillaume Cizeron.

The French ice dancer was asked how she was feeling.

“Not great,” she mustered through a forced smile and a nervous laugh.

The unfortunate scenario occurred in the beginning of their routine when Cizeron slipped his hand behind Papadakis’ neck less than 10 seconds into their routine. Papadakis’ costume featured a halter top and Cizeron’s hand must have clipped the clasp that held it together. Once undone, Papadakis was prone to losing the entire top to her outfit, especially as the couple spun and twizzled about the ice.

Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis of France perform. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

They never broke stride, but as much as they tried to keep it together, the malfunction affected them competitively in terms of the extent of their routine. They were also unable to keep Papadakis completely covered throughout.

“It was my worst nightmare happening at the Olympics,” Papadakis said. “It happened in the first few seconds [of the routine]. I told myself I didn’t have a choice; I have to keep going.”

How did she keep it together mentally and physically?

“I prayed,” Papadakis said. “That is about what I could do.”

The couple finished second headed into Tuesday’s long dance. They trail Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir 83.67 to 81.93. Two American teams followed, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and the brother-sister combo of Maia and Alex Shibutani.

For the French, the challenge of the wardrobe problem affected both their concentration and the extent of some of their spins and twizzles. They also needed to continue to smile and act like nothing was wrong in a sport with intense judging.

“When you rotate, it’s kind of hard to keep your dress on when it’s open,” Cizeron said. “It was in our thoughts all along the program. I think the result affected us.”

That they managed to score so well quickly became a point of celebration.

“I think we should be proud we were able to deliver a strong performance with that happening,” Papadakis said.

Last week, a South Korean ice dancer also suffered a wardrobe malfunction during the team competition. Yura Min was more successful in keeping her top from dropping but didn’t finish in as high a position as Papadakis and Cizeron.

Now the couple focuses on the long dance and trying to win gold.

“We just look forward to a new day tomorrow,” Cizeron said.

Here’s guessing that costume will be sewn onto Papadakis just in case.

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