You ever had that dream where you are standing in front of a group, and you are totally naked?
Well, that’s what Yura Min was frighteningly close to experiencing. In real life. On world-wide television. In her Olympic debut.
Min, an American citizen who trains at Novi Ice Arena, had a wardrobe malfunction on Sunday while competing in the figure skating team event for South Korea.
“Five seconds into the routine, my hook came undone,” Min said.
Not just any hook.
It was the hook in the back of her costume that basically holds the whole thing together.
“I was like, ‘Oh no!’ ” she said. “If that comes undone, the whole thing could just pop off. I was terrified the entire program.”
But what did she do? Stop and fix it?
“I didn’t stop,” she said. “I went from the beginning to the end. I didn’t stop because you get a deduction if you stop in the middle of a program. In my head, I was thinking, ‘Is it better to stop and fix it and get the deduction or keep going?’”
She ad-libbed the entire routine, forcing herself to keep her arms back, trying to keep her costume from coming undone.
If she would have followed her routine precisely and brought her arms together at different times, her top would have slipped down.
“This is my first Olympics, our first program and if my top were to come down, that would have been a disaster” she said. “I was very nervous that the entire thing was going to come off.”
She gutted her way through the program with her partner Alexander Gamelin, keeping everything in place.
“The fans kept cheering,” she said. “Obviously, this is my first Olympics. I don’t want to let loose. I was terrified. I tried my best to keep it together.”
During her twizzle routine, her costume dropped dangerously low.
“Anytime she brought her shoulders in, it came down,” Gamelin said. “I only noticed it halfway through. During our twizzle, it came off her shoulder, all of the way. She had to stop and pull it back up and that cost us a bunch of points. It wasn’t because we were skating poorly.”
Min and Gamelin received 51.97 points and placed ninth out of 10 teams. Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir earned the highest score with 80.51 points, and Maia Shibutani and her brother Alex, who train in Canton, were second with 75.46 points for Team USA.
“Obviously, there were some things she couldn’t do because her costume came undone,” Gamelin said. “She had to fix it a couple of times. I think the skating was good.”
After finishing their routine, a large group of Korean journalists were waiting to talk to Min and Gamelin.
Because they are such an interesting story.
Min’s parents emigrated from South Korea before she was born in Torrance, Calif.
And Gamelin became a naturalized South Korean citizen in July, making him eligible to compete in the Olympics.
They walked in the Opening Ceremony with the unified Korean team.
“It was crazy,” Min said. “The second we went out, the roar of the crowd was amazing. I almost felt like I was in outer space. I was so out of it. Everybody was cheering. There was so much happening.”
And they could feel the gravity of this historic moment.
“I’m loving this whole theme of peace,” Gamelin said.
They were able to spend some time with the North Korean pairs team.
“We have seen them at a lot of competitions,” Min said. “The fact that we were able to see each other. Hug. And take pictures, as one country, was absolutely amazing.”
In retrospect, Min and Gamelin are glad the costume malfunction happened in the team event.
They now can turn their focus to the individual pairs competition, which begins Feb.18.
“If this was our only shot, I’d be devastated,” Min said.
As far as that individual competition, Min plans to wear the same costume.
But they won’t take any chances.
They won’t just fix the hook.
They plan to sew that costume together.
Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel is covering the 2018 Winter Olympics as part of the USA Today Network. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.
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