Figure Skating’s Faux-Nudity

Josh Levin:

This is the enduring image of the Sochi Games:

Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova with her palms facing the ceiling, imploring the crowd to cheer her on during the women’s free skate. The home fans complied, helping to lift Sotnikova to a controversial victory over South Korea’s Yuna Kim. Take a closer look at that iconic photo, and you’ll see something else besides Sotnikova’s sly grin. The 17-year-old gold medalist is wearing flesh-colored fabric in three different places: on her upper torso, her hands, and her legs.


The International Skating Union requires that costumes “be modest, dignified, and appropriate for athletic competition” and “not give the effect of excessive nudity.” Griffies uses a stretchy, translucent fabric called nude mesh; he prefers it to the alternative, nude lycra, because it allows you to see a skater’s muscle tone. …

What about the nude gloves that Sotnikova was wearing? Griffies, who was a competitive figure skater before he moved into fashion, explains that most triple-toe-loopers wear gloves in practice to stay warm, as well as to prevent cuts and scrapes (which can arise from falling on the ice or grabbing your blade during a spin). It feels strange to compete without them, Griffies says, so many skaters go with flesh-colored gloves, which make them feel comfortable but don’t distract the judges. …

Sotnikova completed her flesh-colored look with a set of over-the-boot tights. Griffies hates that look—he prefers the classic feel of a bright white skate. (So does Gracie Gold.) Sotnikova and other skaters wear those “OTB tights” for a bunch of reasons: because they supposedly make their legs look longer …

Nude Mesh vs. Nude Lycra: Figure Skating’s Faux-Nudity Secrets Revealed

Hate it. :-(

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coach Rick

Career gymnastics coach from Calgary, Canada.

6 thoughts on “Figure Skating’s Faux-Nudity”

  1. I could not get past Adelina’s nude gloves, nor the mismatched nude material of her outfit and her tights. She had three different types of nude material, none of which matched her skin tone. It was all super distracting. I’ve watched skating over 20 years now, and I’ve never seen a skater wear gloves while competing.

  2. My coach would have killed me if I wore gloves while competing, doesn’t matter if they’re skin tone. It was obvious they were there and that’s distracting enough! And no, you won’t cut your hand doing a spin, unless you do something wrong, which these Olympic level skaters are good enough to avoid! There’s nothing wrong with the tights (I prefer the boot exposed but it’s merely preference) and nothing wrong with a bit of mesh in the torso (helps the leotard/dress stay in place better than just a couple straps would) but the gloves are my pet peeve!! They are fine during practice but for the love of God…you’re in the Olympics! You can make it 5 minutes without gloves!

  3. The effect on tv & in motion was very different to a still photo. It was no accident & carefully planned .

    I liked it . It had a Spartacus air about it & the gloves gave the message of strength & physical labour.

    Yulia also wore gloves .

  4. Lol at Jacob’s comment on tights – they only come in like 2 shades – common white girl, and African-American! I suppose you could have them made but it never seemed to be much of a necessity when i competed (15 years skating experience) and I am quite pale so I probably had the Polina pale upper, tan lower going on too when I competed! It is common to speak with the judges afterwards for feedback and it was never a comment I heard, personally. I wore the over the boot tights for a couple seasons only in competition and I think I switched to only the one layer of tights (so the boot is showing) because of a judge comment. Some people tear up their boots with their blades because of jumping (inevitable but usually not too bad) so may wear over the boot as a result.

    The downside now that I compete gym is that everyone can see my ghost legs…hahaha

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