Just this past Wednesday, Team USA unveiled its official 2018 Closing Ceremony uniforms for the 2018 PyeongChang Games and the announcement got us thinking about our favorite looks of Winter Olympics past and present. Here’s our take on the good, the bad and the ugly in all-time Winter Olympic fashion ranked in order from YIKES to Yes! Do heed caution though…cowboy hats, Soviet fur and loads of neon ahead.
9. Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony
Team USA’s Opening Ceremony look from the 2014 Sochi Games is, in a word, crazy. Designed by official Olympic outfitter Ralph Lauren, the sweater-white ski pants-toboggan-boots ensemble reflects America’s principle belief of more-is-more and looks better suited for an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party than an Olympic debut. From the sweater’s stars, stripes, rings and embroidered flags to that extra ‘USA’ emblazoned across the hat (lest we forget who is in the red, white and blue!) it’s all just too too much. The Internet went nuts with criticism when the outfits were publicly released, completely justifying our pick for the worst Olympic look of all time.
8. Luge Spectator at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games
Ahhh, the late 1980s. A simpler time of the Iran-Contra, U2, Indiana Jones and truly amazing “fashion,” like this killer mask spotted at the 1988 Calgary Games. And by that we mean literally killer — this mask is far more Freddy Kruger sequel than sports spectator. And while this fan could be more concerned with function than fashion, we can’t help but wonder if Calgary was actually *this” cold. Extra points for the addition of the shades over the mask and for the pins we know this guy spent days trading. Still, we yearn to see the face of this true Olympic fan.
7. Team Canada at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Winter Games
The best women in Canada’s unofficial official sport, curling? Check. Championship smiles? Check. Strange backwards berets, bulky scarves and ill-fitting varsity jackets? Check, check and check. Look, we truly love our neighbors to the north — hockey, ‘eh,’ Justin Trudeau and Tim Horton’s, am I right? But what we don’t love is Team Canada’s podium ensemble from the Nagano Games. It’s hard to make world-class athletes look bad but The Great White North managed to knock that out of the ballpark with this look. At least these ladies are sporting the ultimate saving grace to any outfit: an Olympic gold medal around their necks. Oh, Canada.
6. Team USA at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony
Exploiting Americana stereotypes is clearly a go-to strategy for Team USA and its Opening Ceremony uniform. They prove it here with this look from the 1984 Winter Games. We are really feeling the cowboy hats, but paired with the shearling coats, dark denim, leather gloves, boots and big belt buckles, the outfit goes from kitschy American to America, YEE-HAW! But we are suckers for full-on commitment to any idea so ’84 Olympians, you land yourselves squarely in the middle of the pack with this get-up…now, giddy up!
5. The Soviet Union team at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony
Winter Olympians proudly representing their country in front of the entire world or Soviet housewives strolling in St. Petersburg’s Palace Square? Unclear from this Soviet Opening Ceremony ensemble at the 1980 Lake Placid Games. Sure, the fur coats and hats are entirely referential to their country, but where is the obvious national pride? The socialist patriotism? The red capes? The enthusiastic waving of mini hammers-and-sickles? Ok, we can give points for restraint and for the selection of a classic look, but the failure to include at least one symbol of national spirt keeps the Soviets out of the top.
4. Elana Meyers Taylor and Erin Pac at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games
U.S. bobsledders Elana and Erin prove they can do just about anything in this look from the 2010 Vancouver Games: win an Olympic bronze medal, celebrate accordingly and then hit the hay for a good night’s sleep in these parkas-cum-sleeping bags and knit hat pairings. I mean…they look crazy comfy, right? Our favorite part of the coats is that the post-race burrito and beer you know they indulged in will NEVER be visible under eight pounds of down and an understated star print. Wait, do you think these are still available for purchase? Asking for a friend.
3. Japanese Nordic Skiers at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games
What can we say about this other than love-love-love? These Japanese skiers are owning the winning combination of 1994 — bright floral ski pants and matching neon equipment paired with winning smiles indicative of the gold medal they just bagged. Kenji Ogiwara, center, is an absolute legend in Japan, with this Lillehammer championship being his second Olympic gold. Four years later, Ogiwara was selected to take the Athlete’s Oath at the Nagano Games, a distinct honor made by one athlete, judge or official, and one coach at the Opening Ceremony of each Olympic Games. What’s not to like?
2. Peggy Fleming at the 1968 Grenoble Olympic Winter Games
We just adore this classic 1960’s look from figure skater Peggy Fleming at the 1968 Games. From the gold-button navy car coat and matching bag with the simple USA detail, to the knee-high boots, leather gloves and chic up-do, Peggy looks more ready for a photoshoot than her turn on the ice at Olympic glory. It’s possible Peggy knew more than we did at the time of this snap, because after she won the ladies’ singles gold medal in Grenoble, Fleming transformed into an international style icon and actress while maintaining a career as a commentator and touring professional. A+!
1. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic Winter Games
We could set the “how did we get here” scene of this photo but it’s likely unnecessary. At this point, the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan epic is simply legendary, inspiring museum exhibits, popular music and a 2018 feature film. But an underrated part of the epic is the narrative created by these ostensibly innocent training session dresses worn the very morning of the ladies’ short program. On the left we have the villian Harding in a bright floral skirted number. Like her persona, and the events leading up to this moment, Harding’s choice is brash and bold; against the pure white of the skating rink, you almost can’t NOT look at her. Harding in this dress is everything her archetype suggests — the underdog, the outsider, the scrappy, athletic challenger. And on the right is our protagonist who is also totally dressing her part. Elegant in lace and a matching scrunchie, Kerrigan is the angel in white; the pure ice queen sent from the Establishment to conquer the villian and put the Kingdom back together again. What you can’t see here is the hundreds of photographers and reporters, documenting every turn, glide and glare from these two, making this an iconic moment in Olympic history — fashion and otherwise.