Five seconds into your Olympic debut, you suffer a wardrobe malfunction. What do you do? Keep your shoulders back and keep smiling.
That’s exactly what happened to South Korean ice dancers Yura Min and Alexander Gamelin during their performance in Sunday’s team event. A hook on the back of Min’s red dress slid loose, threatening to reveal rather more than it already did.
“I know that if this comes undone, then the whole thing is going to come undone. So I had that panic,” she said. “That wouldn’t be the most ideal Olympic experience, obviously. The whole time in the back of my head I was just thinking: ‘Keep your back straight because it might come down.”
Things got worse during the twizzles – a synchronized side-by-side spin – when Min felt the dress slipping off her shoulder and down her arm. She had to react fast to stop her Olympic debut being remembered alongside Janet Jackson’s halftime performance at the Super Bowl in 2004.
“It started to come down so I had to stop my twizzle and pull it back up,” she said. Gamelin added: “We were skating well – you just had to keep everything, well, intact.”
Gamelin is from Boston, while Min was born in California to Korean parents. They might not have grown up in the Olympic host nation, but it didn’t stop the crowd from taking them to heart. Min’s dress issues hurt their points total as they finished ninth, but they’re optimistic for the ice dance competition starting Feb. 19.
“The second we stepped onto the ice, the fans started to scream and I think we really fed off that energy,” Min said. “Even with my costume coming undone, the fans helped us, picked us up."
Gamelin talks with Min in Korean and is “at least proficient” – which was handy during his citizenship interview last year.
To march as an American-born athlete alongside North Koreans in the opening ceremony was unforgettable, he said.
“That was crazy. The unified team was a really historic event,” he said. “I’m loving this whole theme of peace.”