Imagine dedicating your life to the pursuit of excellence in a sport. You wake up at 4 a.m. every morning and hit the gym, slopes, ice rink, or whatever, to begin a daily training regimen to slowly but surely make yourself one of the greatest athletes in the world. You reach the trials, succeed, and head off to the biggest sports stage there is: the Olympic Games. Then, when it’s your big moment, you do your very best and fulfill your potential and push your body to its limit to deliver a remarkable feat of athletic achievement, but all that anybody wants to talk about — and all that will dominate the first 50 pages of results when somebody does an online search for your name — is how your shirt snapped in half or a private body part fell out while you were out there skating, skiing, or swimming.
The hard truth of the Olympics
Rummel is the full package: Harvard-educated and an Olympic rower. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, he was part of the crew that won the bronze medal in the not-at-all accurately titled "coxless four" event.
Rummel’s clothes didn’t fall apart or allow something inappropriate to sneak out. Rather, his wardrobe was so, so tight that it left absolutely nothing to the imagination. This is to say that when the team accepted its medals and held Old Glory aloft, the only thing people were looking at was Rummel’s shorts (second from left.) And, well, he seemed to be very excited about competing in the Olympics.
He even talked to Cosmopolitan about all the press his private part generated. "I took it kind of tongue-in-cheek and I thought it was hilarious, but my wife didn’t like it. She didn’t like that everyone was talking about that and not about me winning a medal at the Olympics." Fair enough.
I don’t think you’re ready for this belly at the Olympics
All figure skater Sergei Ponomarenko had to do was coast. After winning a bronze medal at the 1984 Winter Olympics, the pressure was off, and Ponomarenko just had to get through what commentator Dick Button called a "very lyrical and romantic" exhibition dance with his partner, Marina Klimova (pictured above with Ponomarenko at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville).
According to Slate, as the pair from the U.S.S.R. expressively glided around the rink, the fabric on Ponomarenko’s shirt gave out, exposing to the spectators at the Games in Sarajevo and to TV audiences at home an extraordinarily harry stomach and the top of a pair of underpants. The camera zoomed in on it all, of course.
Her outfit came undone at the Olympics, but she sure didn’t
There were actually two figure skating clothing fails at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Just a few seconds into Yura Min’s ice dancing routine with Alexander Gamelin for the team competition, a piece holding her outfit together came undone.
The South Korean skater told USA Today she was "terrified the entire program" because the part of her costume that failed was a load-bearing fastener, and her whole outfit threatened to "just pop off." Rather than stop the routine and incur a penalty, Min skated in such a way as to keep her clothes on — with incredibly stiff posture. That likely affected the gracefulness and fluidity of her movements (and her score.) Min and Gamelin finished in ninth place.
Henrik Harlaut lost his pants but gained entry into the Wu-Tang Clan
At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, this Swedish skier really put the "free" in "freestyle." During a qualifying run for the men’s slopestyle, Harlaut’s baggy ski pants slipped a bit. He skied down the mountain with his loud boxer shorts in full view, but Henrik Harlaut was not embarrassed — far from it.
Instead, he totally owned the moment. According to USA Today, after his sixth-place finish, Harlaut even gave the cameras the Wu-Tang Clan "W" hand sign and shouted "Wu-Tang is for the children," just like how Ol’ Dirty Bastard had done when he rushed the stage at the 1998 Grammys. Well, okay then.
This just in from the Olympics adjustment bureau
Jenifer Benitez, an American-born springboard diver competing for Spain in the 2012 Summer Olympics, was just doing her thing in the deep end when something went terribly awry with her swimsuit. After completing a dive from a height of 3 meters and catching her breath in the pool afterward, she adjusted her swimsuit to make sure everything was where it needed to be. Ironically, it was in doing so that she revealed just a little too much. As her scores were announced, a TV camera managed to catch the briefest glimpse of something not G-rated as Benitez tugged on the neckline of her one-piece. That’s right — the poor Olympian suffered an embarrassingly exposure on live television.
While Benitez surely never planned to show off her under-shirt area in front of the world, we doubt she was too bothered by it, as she had more important things to worry about — like winning a medal for Spain!
Still, the whole incident could have been avoided with some strong double-sided tape.
A not very zippy rejoinder
Speed skaters wear skin-tight jumpsuits that allow them to zoom across the ice with as little drag as possible. There’s little to no chance that a body part is going to slip out of that aerodynamic getup unless the athlete, say, actively unzips the thing.
And that’s exactly what Russian speed skater Olga Graf did at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. After completing a 3,000-meter race, Graf’s time appeared on the scoreboard and proved good enough to secure her a bronze medal. She celebrated with a victory lap, and when she was done, Graf unzipped her suit from the neck to her belly button. Why?
"They are very tight," she said (via Bleacher Report). "You just want to breathe and you want to take off your suit."
That’s understandable and totally not a big deal, except for the fact that Graf forgot she wasn’t wearing anything underneath. "Only afterward did I realize that maybe this video will appear on YouTube," she said. "But I don’t think it will be so bad."
Dancing with disaster at the Olympics
French ice dancing duo Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron were gold medal favorites as they began their short program at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Then things went terribly wrong –not so much dancing-wise, but with Papadakis’ wardrobe.
According to USA Today, the halter part unfastened near the beginning of the routine, and when Cizeron dipped Papadakis near the end of the dance, part of her chest was exposed — flashing television viewers at home and those viewing slow motion screens in the arena.
Papadakis bravely soldiered on during the performance but left the ice in tears and skipped the Q&A with the media, letting Cizeron handle the questions. "It is not what we get ready for when we train," he said. "I am still proud that we managed to pull out a program like that even with a difficulty like this."
Thankfully, there’s a happy ending to this story: Papadakis and Cizeron returned to the ice (with a new wardrobe) for the free program, scored a record-breaking high score for that portion of the competition, and took home a silver medal in ice dancing.
When swimsuits give up at the Olympics, part 1
The combination of swimming really fast, physical contact, and barely-there uniforms make it surprising that there aren’t more wardrobe malfunctions in water polo. Maybe there have been, but the technological developments of underwater cameras and live TV have only recently begun to capture them.
According to the Daily Mail, during a match between Spain and the United States at the 2012 Summer Olympics, American Kami Craig held back Spain’s Matilde Ortiz by holding on to her swimsuit. The Spanish swimmer retaliated by wiggling and flailing. As she did so, her breast broke free from her suit.
When swimsuits give up at the Olympics, part 2
Four years before the 2012 Summer Olympics water polo swimsuit snafu, there was another uniform mishap in the women’s sport. And unfortunately for everyone involved, this incident didn’t happen under the cover of a pool’s water.
During a telecast match at the 2008 Summer Olympics, Greek national water polo team star Christina Tsoukala encountered a serious wardrobe malfunction when her swimsuit failed her. Rather than stay firmly in place, Tsoukala’s swimsuit slid down and revealed her left breast. But, the professional athlete she was, Tsoukala didn’t even seem to notice, as she was too busy trying to help her team secure an Olympic victory … which, sadly for the Greek team, didn’t exactly work out.
The NSFW image of Tsoukala seemingly unaware of her own act of mildly indecent exposure quickly went viral online. And, considering that Tsoukala was 17 years old at the time, the whole thing was pretty dang creepy and quite possible illegal. Shame on you, internet