Gamelin studied Korean and sang the South Korean national anthem as part of an exam for dual citizenship, something Min already had. Although they did not qualify for the Olympics at the world championships, they did place among the top six couples at the Nebelhorn Trophy competition, which secured their spot.
Competing for the United States would have been a long shot, but by representing South Korea, Gamelin and Min’s dreams of competing in the Olympics were finally coming true.
What happened with Min’s costume was rare because athletes have already tested their outfits ahead of the big competition, Barbara DeLaney-Smith, who has taught figure skating for 40 years, said in a phone interview on Sunday.
“You would never wear a costume in an event like that that you hadn’t previously skated in,” she said. “But, as we all know, stuff happens.”
Still, the show must go on.
“Skaters are trained to finish their program pretty much no matter what,” DeLaney-Smith said. “There’s no stopping.”
It has been decades since skaters favored simple, modest costumes with high necklines and full skirts. Today, the couture skating costumes seen in competitions are more delicate and can cost thousands of dollars.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” Vera Wang, who has created figure skating costumes for the last 20 years, told People magazine this month. “If one strap were to break, or if the beading on the sleeve gets caught when they turn, their whole Olympics is over. That is how serious it is. It’s absolutely nightmarish!”
At the elite level, a team of seamstresses stand by to make last-minute costume repairs, but when a wardrobe malfunction happens mid-performance, skaters have only themselves to rely on.
In her book “Only With Passion,” the German gold medalist Katarina Witt described a moment in Paris in 1987, a few months before the Calgary Olympics, when she accidentally exposed one of her breasts.
“I’d wanted to wear a costume that looked like a bustier, but it took months to be made, and when it finally arrived I didn’t have time to try it on during practice,” she wrote. “Big mistake. The top of the costume was made of elastic, and in the middle of a spin I could feel it sliding down, down, down.”
For the rest of the program, she skated with her arms pressed against her sides, afraid to move them.
In 2009, the same problem happened to the Russian skater Ekaterina Rubleva, whose strap popped off during a performance with her partner, Ivan Shefer, during the European championships in Helsinki, Finland.
Min escaped a similar fate.
When the performance ended, one of the Olympic commentators said “it could have actually been a much worse of a problem for her” were it not for the rest of the costume being well designed.
Min and Gamelin placed second to last in the team event.
“I promise to sew myself in for the individual event,” Min said on Twitter on Sunday, punctuating her words with a laughing emoji. “I would like to thank the audience for keeping us going until the end. Couldn’t have done it without you guys.”
Min and her partner never had high expectations, she told The Boston Globe last week.
“We’re not going for a medal or anything, so there’s not that much pressure on us,” she said. “We just want to have fun.”