Why Do USA Skiers & Snowboarders Wear One Arm Out Of Their Competition Vest at The Olympics?

by Alaina Johnson | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

If you watched the 2022 Winter Olympics that were held in Beijing, you may have noticed a curious sight of the USA team members wearing one arm out of their competition bibs.

Athletes from the Olympics claimed that they wore their bibs in such a unique way for functionality, not necessarily fashion. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it turned into a bit of a fashion statement and a way to indicate that they were part of a larger team representing their home.

Julia Marino

Photo by Francisco Seco - United States's Julia Marino competes during the women's slopestyle finals at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China. We are reader supported. We may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Why Do Olympic Skiers and Snowboarders Keep One Arm Out Of Their Bib?

Chloe Kim
Photo by Francisco Seco - United States' Chloe Kim competes during the women's halfpipe qualification round at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, China.

On occasion, the "one-size-fits-all" bibs have a tendency to fly up and hit the wearer in the face. This is obviously not ideal when you're trying to perform the moves you've practiced time and time again to perform on the Olympic stage in front of the world.

The ingenious solution of the Olympians was simply to keep the bib from being able to do this by tucking it under their arm. They received the benefit of still wearing the bib and having their number visible but keeping it from distracting them.

Not every athlete used this method but it became very popular with the USA team and it spread to numerous other countries, such as New Zealand.

Another solution for this issue is to tie the bib tight enough so that it doesn't flap around in the wind. As the athlete is doing an assortment of twists and turns, the bib remains taut against their outerwear.

Function Vs. Fashion

Some viewers wondered if it wasn't some modern-day fashion trend to wear one arm out of the bib. This over-the-shoulder look quickly caught on and throughout the competition, more and more athletes were catching on and following suit.

When you notice how the vests were flapping around on the athletes that didn't choose this method, it was clear that the bibs could be a bit large. The last thing you'd want when you were competing on the world stage was for your ski bib to fly in your face and decrease your line of vision.

Many professional athletes need complete focus in order to execute their tricks and the moves they've been working on for the past four years, sometimes even for a lifetime. A quick and effective solution for situating their vests was necessary.

One Size Does Not Fit All

Unfortunately, there was no range in available sizes from the Olympic bibs and so athletes struggled to make the vest fit them. Due to the large size, many of the women were seen wearing the one-armed look but some of the men began to catch on as well and follow suit.

Not all athletes chose to wear this look and simply made do with the vest as it was but viewers could notice their vests flapping around in the wind as they were flying through the frigid air and making their way down the hill.

Perhaps during the next winter Olympics, viewers will see an end to this peculiar fashion statement if the vests are created in the most common sizes. That way, skiers can choose the one that fits their body and stays securely in place during their performance.

Recap Answer

Many casual viewers of the Olympics were left scratching their heads over the strange way the athletes were wearing their competition vests, especially the members of Team USA. As somebody who doesn't ski and snowboard professionally, you may not have realized what a hindrance the bibs can cause.

The athletes began wearing the bibs under one arm to ensure that they didn't interfere with their line of vision during their segment. If the vest flew up and blocked their goggles, they'd be essentially flying blind and that could be potentially dangerous.