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Olympic Uniforms Take Home the Gold in Ugly-Off

Olympic uniforms

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We’ve put in our time lauding the slick and well-designed Olympic uniforms. These are the other ones. Amid the pageantry of competition, a surprising number of athletes trotted, slid, or squatted into the ready position in garb that made us wonder, “Who thought that outfit was a good idea?”

OPENING CEREMONY–It’s a Tie!

Team Azerbaijan

Say what you want about the fluffy white fur trapper hats, when Team Azerbaijan made their entrance, we couldn’t help focusing below the belt. Psychadelic paisley in the colors of the Azerbaijani flag is kind of like an (acid) party in your pants.

Olympics Team Azerbaijan Opening Ceremony

Team Finland

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Is it sports or science? Looks as though the designer of Team Finland’s jackets had circuit boards–rather than snowboards–on the brain.

Olympics Team Finland Opening Ceremony

SKELETON–Canada’s Jon Montgomery

Okay so he took the gold, but was Jon Montgomery ready for his closeup? Obviously not. All we can say is, we never knew Canada was using their own version of Billy Bob teeth for athletes’ mouth guards.

Olympic Skeleton Canada Jon Montgomery

ICE DANCING – Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin

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Where to begin: the swirls, the fake eucalyptus leaves, or the body suits the color of department store mannequins from the 70s? The Russian ice dancing couple may have been favored to snag gold at the Olympics (they fell considerably short) but in these costumes, they’d already offended a host of Australian Aboriginal elders in their attempt to present an authentic ethnic folk dance–toning down the face paint in their final lackluster run wasn’t likely enough to mitigate the insensitivity, either.

Olympics Ice Dancing Russian Pair - Aborigines

CURLING–Team Norway

In the sport that encourages beer drinking, doughnut consumption, and a healthy dose of self deprecation, it is no surprise that some curler would eventually doff the somber dark uniform pants in favor of something a little more, shall we say, sprightly? Team Norway’s Christoffer Svae did just that, shopping online at Loudmouth, a golf outfitter. The “Fab Five” is currently ranked #2, but we give them points for originality–even if it is in questionable taste. Um, also, the Mad Hatter called…

Olympic Curling Team Norway

MOGULS–Australia’s Dale Begg-Smith

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First we want to say, it isn’t his fault. Dale Begg-Smith managed to snag silver for the Aussie’s and Team Australia rewards him by cloaking him in what can only be described as a yellow slicker courtesy of Karbon Sports. On the um, brighter side, perhaps he can score a sponsorship with Gorton’s of frozen fish stick fame. He’s got the jacket, all he needs is the hat to match.

Vancouver Olympics Freestyle Skiing

FIGURE SKATING–Belgium’s Kevin van der Perren

Between the plumage, the paillets, and the plaid, it was hard to pick just one skater boy sporting a casualty of threads. And poking fun at Johnny Weir’s corset and ruffles is too obvious. Then we found Kevin van der Perren. Psst Kevin, Halloween’s in October. And maybe no one told you but the Skeleton–that’s a whole other event. We were half expecting him to chase down and beat up The Karate Kid at the end of this run (sweep the leg, Kevin!).

SPEED SKATING–Japan’s Joji Kato

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From the land that gave us Pokemon, Joji Kato tears up the oval in a get-up worthy of Pikachu. Though he sported a slick, black unitard with gold stripes and stipples, the Japanese contender scored bronze. Maybe another color is in order for the next competition?

Vancouver Olympics Speed Skating

SNOWBOARDING–Team USA

It’s not the uniforms for the U.S. snowboarders are ugly exactly. It’s just that they are so darned unflattering. We get that the uber-laid-back snowboarding culture holds baggy pants and boxy jackets in high esteem, but the outfits designed by Burton make the entire team look like children shuffling around playing dress up in their older brother’s duds. Designer Greg Dacyshyn spun the jeans and flannel shirt as “a look that would bring Jimmy Barnes to his knees.” Perhaps it should be “cut off at the knees.”

Olympic snowboard Team USA

FREESTYLE SKI AERIALS – Team USA

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Once again, Team USA takes the prize for the star-spangled snowsuits by Under Armour. Though the designers claim they were “inspired” by Evil Knievel, we think the only aesthetic at work here was an idiosyncratic re-imagining of Captain America’s pajamas. (Do you think they have a trap-door?)

Olympics moguls

Disagree with any of this? Feel free to lay down your own opinions in the comments below.

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.

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