Quirkiest Winter Sports Failures I

Part one of a two-part series.

Ekaterina  Rubleva Breast
Ekaterina Rubleva loses her top while performing with Ivan Shefer.

January 20, 2009: Russian figure skater Ekaterina Rubleva, 23, loses her top while performing with partner Ivan Shefer, 25, during the Ice Dancing compulsory dance at the European Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland. The pair ignores the wardrobe malfunction and competes with Rubleva’s pink costume hanging down and one of her breasts exposed. The judges go on to award a score of 29.04, good enough for 12th place.

February 3, 2005: World Cup-winning American ski racer Bode Miller loses a ski 16 seconds into a downhill race at Bormio, Italy, but draws cheers from spectators as he continues down the course on one leg—even dropping into a tuck position on occasion—before toppling over just short of the finish line. This one ski run is already considered one of the most memorable runs in skiing history.

October 17, 2002: With five minutes left in an NHL game between the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames at Calgary’s Pengrowth Saddledome, fan Tim Hurlbut (wearing nothing but red socks), climbs over the glass and onto the ice. Hurlbut soon slips, hits his head on the ice, and is knocked unconscious. After a six minute delay, paramedics cart him away on a stretcher to the cheers of thousands of fans.

February 17, 2006: With an insurmountable lead in the women’s snowboardcross final at the 2006 Winter Olympics, American Lindsey Jacobellis, 20, performs an unnecessary trick (a backside method grab) on the second-to-last jump, loses her edge and tumbles to the snow. While scrambling to get up, Tanja Frieden of Switzerland races past Jacobellis to capture the gold medal.

June 8, 2004: The Tampa Bay Tribune mistakenly publishes an editorial which asserts that the Tampa Bay Lightning lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Calgary Flames—a game the Lightning won. The newspaper prepared two editorials—one for a win and one for a loss—but printed the wrong version. The editorial began: “The Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t win the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup last night. But the team had a championship season nevertheless.”

December 12, 2008: Brett Leonhardt, 26, a six-foot-seven former Div. III hockey goalie and an employee of the Washington Capitals, suits up as the Caps’ backup goaltender for a game against the Ottawa Senators. The team’s actual backup goalie, Jose Theodore, had injured his hip during the morning skate, leading the club to sign Leonhardt—a cameraman for the team’s Web site—to an amateur tryout contract. Leonhardt’s NHL career—which he refers to as a “dream come true”—lasts all of ten minutes, ending when Simeon Varlamov, recalled from Hershey, Pennsylvania, arrives midway through the first period.

January 4, 2007: With ten seconds to go in an NHL game, Dallas Stars forward Patrick Stefan fails to tap in an empty-net goal after losing control of the puck in the Edmonton Oilers’ crease. The Oilers immediately regain possession, and eight seconds later Ales Hemsky bangs the puck past Dallas goalie Marty Turco to force overtime. “It was bad ice and I had time so I tried to carry [the puck] all the way to the net. As soon as I put it on my backhand it jumped over my stick,” says Stefan afterwards. 

Quirkiest Winter Sports Failures II