Former Olympian calls on social media users to not share wardrobe malfunction
Nicole Forrester, a former Canadian high-jump champion, says the incident was unfortunate and unavoidable.
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Former Olympian Nicole Forrester says the live broadcast of the wardrobe malfunction during Sunday night's ice dance competition at the Pyeongchang Games was unfortunate and unavoidable.
But the former Canadian high-jump champion says social media users can avoid amplifying the incident and making it worse by not retweeting and sharing the uncensored images.
"The issue I take more is how the public reacts thereafter and people having the grace and the maturity to be sensitive to how someone might be feeling and the idea that you might feel mortified," said Forrester, an assistant professor in Ryerson University's RTA School of Media.
"You don't actually want to have the world retweeting and not being sensitive in that sense, so I would hold more accountability to the general public as being morally and ethically correct."
Forrester said she felt mortified for French skater Gabriella Papadakis when her costume became loose and revealed one of her breasts while performing on ice with Guillaume Cizeron.
The live performance on CBC was quickly followed by a slow-motion replay.
While some Canadian social media users criticized CBC for airing the footage, which was carried live around 11:20 p.m. ET, the network responded with a tweet explaining that it uses the local feed for the event and that the footage would be edited out of encore broadcasts.
A CBC spokesperson was not available for comment Monday.
"It's not the first time we've seen incidents like this happen, whether it's an athlete being interviewed right after in the heat of the moment or a performance at the Super Bowl or something," Forrester said.
"I think those are the woes of live broadcasting and it happens."
Forrester noted that some female athletes in other sports also have to wear minimal clothing out of necessity and are vulnerable to being exposed during events.
"In track, where you're wearing skimpy outfits and certainly as the race is unfolding, especially a 400 and that, it's not uncommon for the briefs to ride up a girl's butt. It goes with the sport."
Former skating champ and television commentator Sandra Bezic said she watched the incident unfold live on NBC, and as soon as it became apparent that Papadakis's costume was falling down, the network pulled back to a wider camera shot to minimize the exposure.
But for CBC and other broadcasters around the world who aired the local feed, Bezic said the damage was already done.
"When you're skating ... it gives the impression that you're kind of invincible, and the truth is it's an extraordinarily vulnerable sport," said Bezic, who represented Canada in the 1972 Winter Olympics. "It's just horrible. It was distracting for everybody, for her the most."
Bezic described the incident as a skater's version of a "naked dream" come to life, and said she was in awe of Papadakis as she ploughed through the rest of the performance.
"It was a complete freak accident," said Bezic. "You're sealed into those costumes, so I don't know what happened."
For much of her 20-year career, designer Josiane Lamond said she had trouble watching skaters perform in her costumes live on television. She worried that despite all the fail-safes she had installed to keep the outfits fastened, something could go awry.
"It's a nightmare for a designer, what happened," said Lamond. "You don't want that kind of thing to happen to one of your costumes. It's not good for the reputation."
Lamond said her company, EliteXpression, supplied 20 costumes for this year's Winter Games, each designed with risk in mind to make sure the outfit could withstand the physical demands of the performance.
For a halter-top costume like the one Papadakis was wearing, Lamond said she would have included a back-up strap with an extra hook in case the clasps around the neck became undone.
Even if the design was flawless, Lamond said, costume malfunctions are sometimes the result of human error on the part of the skater or her partner.
While she is confident her costumes will hold up on the ice, Lamond said she still feels a twinge of worry as she watches the skaters perform, because some wardrobe issues are caused by nothing other than bad luck.
"It's my worst fear," she said. "I really cross my fingers that it doesn't happen."
— with files from The Associated Press