Looking back at Sochi style

Posted Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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Two weeks of overdosing on the Sochi Olympics and all I distinctly remember is what Johnny Weir wore. The former Olympic figure skater began his NBC commentaries in a rather subdued fashion, but, in an escalating frenzy of sequins, he became more bedazzled each day, far out-glittering even the ice dancers.

His partner in glama-commentary, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski let’s call the dynamic duo Tahnny — dressed to match but was woefully mud-henned to his peacock. Tahnny was saved from becoming a fashion footnote by its skillful reporting, observations and personal anecdotes. They rendered NBC’s prime-time talent, Sandra Bezic and Scott Hamilton, wretchedly over the hill. (Hopefully someone at the network noticed and we will never have to hear Bezic’s vapid mewling again.)

Oh, Johnny

Weir documented his fashion procession daily in front of a bright blue Volvo truck, and posted it to his Instagram account.

It wasn’t a red carpet setting, but Weir will be there Sunday when he and Lipinski cover the Academy Awards red carpet arrivals for Access Hollywood.

There was snow and ice style aplenty in Sochi, but it was made surreptitiously over or under the mandatory team uniforms. (Which is why the Summer Olympics makes for better people-watching, as you can actually see the athletes’ bodies. It is also why figure skating is so popular at the Winter Olympics, as it is the only skin game in town.)

Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights and lowlights of Sochi style:

Team uniforms

Team USA’s granny knit sweaters got slammed before they were even handed out to the athletes, but once they appeared on the writhing mass of athletes, the flurry of stars, stripes and USAs wasn’t so heinous. We had yet to see the real horror — the USA snowboard uniforms, a drab patchwork print worn with khaki pants — so the sweaters weren’t a complete embarrassment.

At least the Team USA uniforms were better than what the French had to wear. Their gray coats and khaki pants looked like government issue for sanitation workers. The Germans wore it best. Their head-to-toe, rainbow-hued floral prints might have been gaily political, or just very cheery.


By far the most interesting designer-made garments for a group were those worn by the opening ceremony hostesses who escorted each country’s athletes into the stadium. Should the Miss Universe pageant ever become legitimately universal, this could be Miss Saturn’s native dress, or perhaps a uniform for interstellar flight attendants.


It’s difficult to look unique in a team suit. The amount of attention the Canadian skeleton athletes received for their helmets should inspire more individual head expression. Americans Katie Uhlaender and Noelle Pikus-Pace, and Canadians John Fairbairn and Eric Neilson displayed a fierce head style ricocheting down the track. More of these, please.

Helmet hair

Skiers and snowboarders were completely unidentifiable; only the flying tendrils of escaping hair signified who was shredding the slopes, and this was not limited to the women. Their tonsorial efforts made for some signature style that could help identify them when they crossed the finish line. Australia’s Stephanie Magiros threaded green feathers into her ’do, and when in motion, she seemed to be taking wing.

Fashion on ice

There were lots of glittery ice dancing, and figure skating free skate costumes. The technological advances in nude-colored sheer fabrics allowed a plethora of showgirllike outfits. Ladies Mao Asada and Meryl Davis, for example, looked bare, but they met the judging criteria of being 50 percent covered, even if the fabric was almost invisible.

The most memorable of the figure-skating costumes were the high-concept, total packages of outfits, music and choreography. The German pairs team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy dressed like cartoon characters while skating to the Pink Panther theme. For once, trousers that covered the skates looked right, and her hot pink full-length costume was a refreshing change. They won the bronze in the pairs competition.

The Russian ice dancers Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev skated to a theme of depression, and they dressed and expressed like zombies. That routine stayed in the memory bank, although they were not rewarded with a medal.

Guilty pleasures

The histrionics of the ice divas is always a good side show. Russian gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova and American bronze team medalist Ashley Wagner over -emoted more than soap opera stars during sweeps week.

Next stop: Pyeongchang

Just minutes before the Olympic torch is extinguished, it is customary for the president of the IOC to call for “the youth of the world to assemble four years from now …” and then he names the next Olympic venue, in this case, Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Thankfully, many of those youths are already decorated Olympians. I eagerly await the return of Mikaela Shiffrin, 18, American gold medalist in the alpine skiing giant slalom; Yulia Lipnitskaya, 15, Russian gold medalist in the team event figure skating; Gracie Gold, 18, American bronze medalist in the team event figure skating; and Yuzuru Hanyu , 19, Japanese gold medalist in men’s free skating.

I even expect the American grand dames of the slopes to return: Maddie Bowman, 20, gold medalist in half pipe skiing; Kaitlyn Farrington, 24, gold medalist in snowboard; and Jamie Anderson , 23, gold medalist in slopestyle.

We desperately need new blood and new narratives, because the perennial story of “Will Bode Miller get the gold or implode?” became as irritating as the abusively over-played Olympic commercials featuring Cadillac’s bombastic braggadocio and the Chevy Tahoe’s avariciously calculating baby sitter.

Gaile Robinson, 817-390-7113 Twitter: @GaileRobinson

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