GANGNEUNG — There is a chance that everybody has had the same nightmare, the one where you end up naked in a public place.
Gabriella Papadakis had hers at the Olympics on Monday. She wasn’t asleep, she was aghast.
The French ice dancer and her partner Guillaume Cizeron, who came into the Games as gold medal threats, were mere seconds into their short program when her dress started to come apart. Literally.
“There were some snaps on her neck and it was sewn also and it just got undone on the second move,” said their coach Marie-France Dubreuil. “So Guillaume is holding her by the neck. He probably ripped it on the way up. You know sometimes in competition you have a little bit more adrenaline and more power in your body than you normally have.”
Papadakis certainly had more resolve than some others might have had in her vulnerable position. She played on.
“I felt it right away and I prayed,” she said. “That was all that I could do.
“It was pretty distracting. It was kind of, you know, my worst nightmare happening at the Olympics. It happened in the few first seconds of the program and I told myself I don’t have a choice, I have to keep going, and that’s what we did and I think we can be proud of ourselves to have been able to deliver a high performance with that happening.”
They scored 81.93 points despite the mental stress and the physical imperative that they keep her dress from falling right off. That involved Cizeron keeping his hands on her, which ice dancers are prone to do anyway.
“Well, it had an effect on their performance, of course,” said Dubreuil. “Instead of dancing and being in the moment, they were just like trying to keep it together. There was not the freedom of movement that they normally have.
“The fringe being heavy, as soon as she twizzled or something she felt the top pulling away from her, so yeah, that’s slightly distracting I would say.”
Had they stopped skating to facilitate a costume fix, they would have faced a five-point deduction. They probably didn’t lose that much from the judges after deciding to tough it out. But they are 1.74 points behind the Canadian team of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and the gap might well have been even tighter without the wardrobe malfunction.
“It’s very unfortunate but I must say I don’t know any other girl who would have finished the performance the way she did, even with the top completely undone,” said Dubreuil.
“I mean, she has nerves of steel. Guillaume tried to keep the top at a place where she could keep going. It was amazing teamwork they did together out there today and I mean, that’s a real testament to their hard work and training. Even with that being a huge distraction they still managed to pull off (81.93) points. I’m really proud of them for doing that.”