The athleticism of figure skating can't be denied, but let's face it: the intricate beaded, bedazzled, and embroidered costumes often steal the show. Take a look back at some of the best outfits to ever grace Olympic ice — including the totally over the top accouterment of the '80s.
The six-time U.S. national champion competed in St. Moritz, Switzerland, wearing a belted skirt with sharp pleats. Without modern ice resurfacing, Merrill had to compete on ice chopped up from the hockey games the night before, and in created by a thaw.
According to the , Fleming's mother chose this unusual color "after learning that monks in the Grenoble region of France made Chartreuse liqueur." She believe the hue would remind the audience of the herbal alcohol, and subconsciously encourage them to cheer her on.
The Austrian who went by "Trixi" won gold in Sapporo, Japan, thanks to her dominant performance in the compulsory skating section, a former part of international competition. She took the medal stand in a sequined costume that almost looked like a short blazer.
Long before the days of $5,000 costumes, the figure skating legend turned to her mother's friend to make her simple but elegant outfits for Montreal Olympics. The bill cost a mere .
While this white and turquoise look has withstood the test of time, the American wasn't immune to other trends of the era. She also wore an bejeweled for another portion of the games in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
The East German skater beat out Sumners by a mere tenth of a point to secure gold. Her sparkly outfit (tiara included) definitely lived up to the title of ice princess.
Nicknamed the "jumping flea" for her small size and powerful jump, Ito became the first woman to land seven triples in a free skate during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The Japanese skater chose black and gold — a color scheme replicated in 1992 by Kristi Yamaguchi — for her performance, but only placed fifth.
The development of bodysuits for male figure skaters soon saw crossover in the women's competition. Thomas chose a sequined jumpsuit for her short program in Calgary, on her way to becoming the first African-American athlete to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
A three-time U.S. champion, Trenary fell short of Thomas's bronze that year but dazzled in a bright pink dress. One of her go-to designers, Lauren MacDonald Sheehan, used dental floss to sew on beads, so that they didn't fall onto the ice and endanger the skater.
Although it looks relatively tame today, this was the look heard around the figure skating world. "We're here to skate in a dress, not a G-string," a rival coach remarked upon seeing the skirtless costume. The International Skating Union would later implement the that requiring skaters to wear skirts, but Witt would ultimately pave the way for the bold, glitzy costumes the sport is known for.
Even though this open-shoulder number looks rather elaborate, Yamaguchi insists that the first thought for all of her costumes was aerodynamics. "When you are trying two to three quads in a program, you want as little distraction as possible," the gold medal winner told the . "You don't want anything weighing you down, distracting you, or getting in the way."
Bonaly asked designer Christian Lacroix to outfit her for the 1992 Olympics in their native France. Spanish bullfighting inspired the couture outfit she wore during the freestyle program, the reported at the time.
Yamaguchi secured the gold in Albertville wearing (of course) gold. She later loaned the iconic costume to the U.S. Figure Skating Museum, along with her medal.
Nancy Kerrigan also relied on a designer for her costumes, tapping for both the 1992 and 1994 Olympics. In Lillehammer, Wang created a white spandex dress with sheer black sleeves based on a cocktail dress in her ready-to-wear collection for Barneys.
It wasn't so much the maroon dress that caught the attention of the judges that day, but Harding's skates. She would complain to the refs of a broken lace, earning a controversial do-over — not to mention her troubles off the ice. Margot Robbie would go on to reenact the incident in a perfect replica of the costume, , in I, Tonya.
It was Kerrigan that would ultimately skate to the medal stand wearing a stunning Vera Wang creation. The designer heat-pressed a whopping onto the fabric, as using stitching or metal back would have made the outfit too heavy for jumps.
Vera Wang created another stunning dress for Michelle Kwan's trip to Nagano Japan. The two became so close that the designer would later create a for the skater's 2013 nuptials.
It was the 15-year-old phenom that walked away with gold that year, wearing a flashy cobalt dress with a matching scrunchie. She's since appeared at the 2014, 2016, and now the 2018 Olympics as a cultural commentator alongside figure skater Johnny Weir.
Unlike other competitors, Surya Bonaly rarely wore skating tights with her Christian Lacroix costumes, because they did not come in her skin tone at the time. As if the fringed armbands weren't enough, the skater made history this year by becoming the only person ever to land a backflip (her signature move) in the Olympics, despite judges declaring it illegal due to the inherent danger.
According to Vera Wang, Cohen was intimately involved with the creation of this stunning ombre look, as she was for all of her outfits. "You never know what Sasha is up to," Wang told . "One minute she's Carmen, the next minute she's Gisele."
Kwan called this purple Vera Wang creation one of her all-time favorite looks in an interview with , along with metallic dress she wore for her "Fields of Gold" exhibition piece.
After at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Hughes enlisted the help of Jef Billings, an Emmy award-winning costume designer, for the Salt Lake City Olympics. The result? This gorgeous lavender number Hughes wore on her way to gold.
Not long after Debi Thomas's appearance in a daring jumpsuit, ISU soon would ban bodysuits for women, a rule that stood until 2006. Russian skater Irina Slutskaya embraced the change by wearing a fireworks-bedazzled costume in Turin.
Sasha Cohen made a return to the Olympics that year as well, wearing a feminine outfit she dubbed her "Romeo and Juliet" dress. "I loved the whooshing of the skirt," she told . "It had the delicate beadwork of high fashion, but it was still a skating dress."
It was the costumes that the Japanese skater to the sport in the first place, and she didn't shy away from the glamour when her own turn came. Vera Wang told that the ultimate gold medal winner likely chose the asymmetric look to show judges she was a risk taker – and it worked.
While the male figure skater didn't skimp on rhinestones on the outside of his costume, he would also include a few on the inside as a good luck charm, he told . Weir also frequently wore gloves with his costume since he practiced with them and wanted to replicate everything in his routine.
Pat Pearsall, who designs many of the Nagasu's costumes, told she will listen to the American skater's chosen piece of music 20 to 30 times before designing the corresponding dress. To do the stonework like on this costume, she'll draw the design freehand before putting the fabric on a flat board and adding the rhinestones one by one.
"Queen Yuna" looked like an actual Bond girl in a sparkly dress worn during a movie music medley. The jumbled squares of metallic beads look like they belong in one of the films' opening sequences.
The South Korean, who opened this year's games, finished out her technically in Sochi wearing a citron-colored dress with delicate sleeves. The tights that extend over her boots help create the illusion of longer legs.
Gracie Gold will compete in PyeongChang this year, but her dip-dyed look in Sochi still reigns supreme. Designer Brad Griffies — — channeled some of the actress's Old Hollywood vibe for this "simple" costume with only 1,400 beads.