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Last night at the 2018 US National Figure Skating Championships, there was the usual amount of sparkles, mesh, and sparkly mesh. But there was one fashion statement rare for ladies’ singles: a dope-ass unitard.
Worn by 2014 Olympian Polina Edmunds, said unitard was a partially sheer, bedazzled, vaguely Art-Deco number that demands the question: Why can’t figure skaters embrace unitards the way female stars on the red carpet embraced tuxedos?
The shortest and most obvious answer is that unitards are a lot less pretty than skating dresses. They’re the kind of costume you get assigned when you’re cast as “Friendly Candy Cane #4” at the holiday skating show. They also do not look great unless you happen to have the body of a competitive athlete. Luckily, however, everyone competing to go to the Olympics... doesn’t have to worry about that!
The other answer is that from 1988 to 2003, female skaters were required to compete in skirts, part of an International Skating Union rule that was a reaction to this incredible Katarina Witt ensemble at the 1988 Olympics. But that rule is no more!
Plus, unitards certainly aren’t unheard of. Debi Thomas wore one at the 1988 Olympics (before the Katarina Rule). Irina Slutskaya wore one at the 2006 Olympics that was covered in fireworks. And if there’s a place for unitards, it’s in the short program, which is (obviously) shorter and tends to be more upbeat than the freeskate.
So, free from the rules and stereotypes of yesteryear, it is time to embrace the unitard. Though Polina placed seventh in the short program last night, there’s still the freestyle competition to go, which means there is a chance — albeit a very small one — that this exact purple unitard could grace the ice in Pyeongchang. But in the meantime, other skaters would do well to follow suit.
You can watch the unitard in action below: