Winter Olympics 2018

Athletes' nightmares snap into cold reality

French skater suffers wardrobe malfunction in ice dance, Russian curler ejected for failing dope test

Gabriella Papadakis struggled to get through a routine after her dress came undone during a figure skating program at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron managed to complete the ice dance short programme despite her top coming off. But while she was in tears, their second-placed score gave them cheer.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron managed to complete the ice dance short programme despite her top coming off. But while she was in tears, their second-placed score gave them cheer.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PYEONGCHANG (South Korea) • Tearful figure skater Gabriella Papadakis did not let her "worst nightmare" stop her from finishing second in the ice dance short programme with partner Guillaume Cizeron yesterday.

Despite suffering an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at the Winter Olympics, she demonstrated remarkable composure as the French pair scored 81.93 points.

They head into today's free dance behind only Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the Vancouver 2010 champions who posted a short-dance world record score of 83.67.

Papadakis' dress slipped during their routine when the 22-year-old leaned backwards early on and Cizeron inadvertently unclipped the back of her green costume. Her halter-top, complete with tassles and spangles, edged sideways to briefly expose her left breast.

The duo - heavy title favourites when they entered the Gangneung Ice Arena yesterday - were still able to finish their short dance as Papadakis tried to keep her chest covered, but she left the ice in tears.

Compounding her embarrassment, the incident was replayed in slow motion on screens at the arena.

She said after drying her eyes: "I felt it right away and I prayed. I told myself 'you have to keep going' and that's what we did and we have to be proud of ourselves, delivering a great performance with that happening."

Papadakis is not the first figure skater to have a wardrobe fail at these Games. South Korean Min Yu Ra won the hearts of skate fans on her Olympic debut after bravely battling on after a hook popped on her dress just seconds into her routine in the team short dance.

Focusing on executing her spins with partner Alexander Gamelin, Min had to keep adjusting her red top, winning rich praise from commentators for keeping her cool.

In contrast, Alexander Krushelnitsky might have won bronze in the mixed doubles curling with his wife Anastasia Bryzgalova, but has not found himself covered in glory.

The Russian left the Games village yesterday after testing positive for a substance believed to be meldonium, which increases endurance and helps recovery.

Krushelnitsky, 25, is now the subject of a new procedure at the Court of Arbitration for Sport's (CAS) anti-doping division.

That he passed rigorous vetting to attend the Pyeongchang Games has raised questions over the testing programme and the move to let Russians compete despite systemic doping.

The case could have wider repercussions: Olympic officials will decide this week whether to lift a ban on Russia and let them march behind their national flag at the closing ceremony on Sunday.

Krushelnitsky was one of 168 athletes passed as "clean" and allowed to compete as neutrals after a targeted testing programme stretching back over several months.

But after both his 'A' and 'B' urine samples tested positive, CAS will now decide if there has been a violation and any possible sanctions. No date was set for the hearing.

Russian curling federation president Dmitry Svishchev dismissed the case against Krushelnitsky as a "provocation, a subversive act".

"During his career, since 2015, he gave 11 samples for testing and all of them have been negative," he told Russia's 360TV channel.

"Just imagine what could have happened inside the man's head to take a (banned) pill ahead of the Olympics?"

International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams said it stands by the decision to allow supposedly clean Russian athletes to compete in Pyeongchang.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2018, with the headline 'Athletes' nightmares snap into cold reality'. Subscribe