GANGNEUNG, South Korea – How much is too much? Well, when you have a figure skater whose breast accidentally pops out of her costume during a routine, and you not only show it on television but zoom for a slow-motion replay of the mishap, that’d be too much.
Such is the case of unfortunate French ice dancer Gabriella Papadakis and the Olympic Broadcasting Service. The OBS provides images and video to more than 100 countries from these Winter Games, including the figure skating competition.
When Papadakis’ halter-top dress became unfastened at the beginning of her performance alongside partner Guillaume Cizeron in the short dance on Monday afternoon, the cameras kept rolling as she fought to protect her modesty while still executing the key elements required by the judges.
Within a minute of the routine ending, the painful and embarrassing slow-mo kicked in, including shots of Papadakis’ partially-exposed breast and her nipple, and was seen both on the big screen in the Gangneung Ice Arena and around the world.
When asked about the decision to replay the wardrobe malfunction, the OBS told USA TODAY Sports, it “covers athletic performances and followed our standard transmission of replays as we have with every other athlete and this includes the finale of the performance.”
Not good enough, guys. A staple part of solid broadcasting coverage is the ability to react to the unexpected. If a fan had slid onto the ice carrying an offensive banner filled with profanity, would they have shown that too, in slow-mo, just because that’s how they typically do it?
American rights holder NBC was also caught by surprise by the incident but acted swiftly to rectify the situation in order to spare Papadakis from further embarrassment.
“Our coverage of ice dancing was live tonight,” an NBC statement to the Associated Press read. “Once a competitor's brief wardrobe issue became evident, we purposely used wider camera shots and carefully selected replays to keep the issue obscured. We have edited the video for all television encores and online replays.”
Papadakis and Cizeron vowed to come back strongly from the incident, which left Papadakis in tears as she was questioned by reporters. They sat in second place ahead of Tuesday’s free dance, and still in contention to overhaul the leaders, Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.