The sportswear of Olympic events range from Fabulousity Uber Alles (figure skating) to revealingly narcissistic (diving) to trimly functional (gymnastics) to overtly Lebowskian (halfpipe snowboarding).
To a man from Mars, figure skating and the halfpipe wouldn’t seem all that different—in both, competitors are primarily judged on gracefully executing aerial rotations—but their clothes demonstrate that they are wildly different in what kind of young Americans they appeal to.
Although Fred Astaire demonstrated that a man can dance perfectly well while well-dressed, male figure skaters typically pursue sparkliness over taste and even sanity.
In contrast, the 2010 American snowboard team espoused a uniform carefully designed to look like they found their clothes at the bottom of a trunk in Kurt Cobain’s mom’s attic: hooded flannel shirts and torn baggy jeans.
The snowboarder uniforms are actually made out of Gore-Tex with the slacker designs (including the rips in the supposed denim) merely printed on them. But neither authenticity nor aerodynamism is the point. The point is that they are not tight-fitting like the figure skaters’ outfits.
Correction: My reference to an "opera aria" in a video I linked to of Vitaly Scherbo and another gymnast was inaccurate. A reader points out:
The piece in question is not actually from an opera. It is the "Panis Angelicus": the text is an ancient Catholic Latin hymn of praise to Christ present in the Eucharist. The text's opening words are "Panis Angelicus, fit panis hominum," which means "Bread of Angels, become the bread of men". The musical setting is that by Cesar Franck, who was one of the great composers of organ works and other sacred music in the late 19th century.