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Agência Brasil Fotografias via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Agência Brasil Fotografias via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

How Much Do the Olympic Gymnastics Uniforms Cost?

Agência Brasil Fotografias via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Agência Brasil Fotografias via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

The competition leotards worn by the Team USA gymnasts at the 2016 Olympics are the most expensive the team has ever seen, according to TIME. Each is worth up to $1200—thanks largely to the swirls of as many as 5000 Swarovski crystals bedazzling the tops and arms. 

Other factors contribute to the price, too. The leotards—made by Under Armour and gymnastics outfitter GK Elite—take two years to design, and each one is custom-made for the athlete using a process that requires three fittings. Because the gymnasts' bodies are unique, and sticking or bulging fabric could cost them at the competition, there’s no one standard cut for the design.

But really, it’s all about the bedazzling. “It’s difficult for me to imagine how we could get more crystals on,” Kelly McKeown, executive vice president for design and corporate relations at GK Elite, told The New York Times. At this year’s Olympics, “we may have hit peak crystal,” McKeown says.

As the Times points out, there’s good reason for all that flash: The light-catching crystals help small girls stand out in a huge stadium. Women’s gymnastics is one of the most-watched Olympic sports, and this year, Simone Biles’s performances are some of the most-anticipated of the entire games. Plus, Martha Karolyi, coordinator for the U.S. women’s team, is reportedly a big fan of sparkle. And as CNNMoney notes, GK Elite has a relatively new machine with robotic arms to sew on the crystals—which makes achieving significant sparkle much faster and more painless. 

Each Team USA gymnast receives eight competition leotards and 12 training leotards. Of course, the $1200 cost is what the leotards would fetch on the open market. (They’d likely earn more once worn by the Olympians.) However, the gymnasts don’t pay for their own uniforms. USA Gymnastics, the national governing board, covers the cost.

You can also get your own replica version from GK Elite for $59.99 or $79.99—much less pricey, but also much less sparkly.

They’re not the only Olympics uniforms costing a pretty penny. The preppy Ralph Lauren-designed ensembles for the U.S. athletes at the Opening Ceremonies would cost you more than $1500 if you bought the retail versions online. Sadly, the light-up jacket Michael Phelps wore at the opening ceremonies isn’t currently available for purchase—and no word on the cost. 

[h/t CNN Money]

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Big Questions
What Are Curlers Yelling About?
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images
WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

Curling is a sport that prides itself on civility—in fact, one of its key tenets is known as the “Spirit of Curling,” a term that illustrates the respect that the athletes have for both their own teammates and their opponents. But if you’re one of the millions of people who get absorbed by the sport once every four years, you probably noticed one quirk that is decidedly uncivilized: the yelling.

Watch any curling match and you’ll hear skips—or captains—on both sides barking and shouting as the 42-pound stone rumbles down the ice. This isn’t trash talk; it’s strategy. And, of course, curlers have their own jargon, so while their screams won’t make a whole lot of sense to the uninitiated, they could decide whether or not a team will have a spot on the podium once these Olympics are over.

For instance, when you hear a skip shouting “Whoa!” it means he or she needs their teammates to stop sweeping. Shouting “Hard!” means the others need to start sweeping faster. If that’s still not getting the job done, yelling “Hurry hard!” will likely drive the point home: pick up the intensity and sweep with downward pressure. A "Clean!" yell means put a brush on the ice but apply no pressure. This will clear the ice so the stone can glide more easily.

There's no regulation for the shouts, though—curler Erika Brown says she shouts “Right off!” and “Whoa!” to get her teammates to stop sweeping. And when it's time for the team to start sweeping, you might hear "Yes!" or "Sweep!" or "Get on it!" The actual terminology isn't as important as how the phrase is shouted. Curling is a sport predicated on feel, and it’s often the volume and urgency in the skip’s voice (and what shade of red they’re turning) that’s the most important aspect of the shouting.

If you need any more reason to make curling your favorite winter sport, once all that yelling is over and a winner is declared, it's not uncommon for both teams to go out for a round of drinks afterwards (with the winners picking up the tab, obviously). Find out how you can pick up a brush and learn the ins and outs of curling with our beginner's guide.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Why You Should Never Take Your Shoes Off On an Airplane
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iStock

What should be worn during takeoff?

Tony Luna:

If you are a frequent flyer, you may often notice that some passengers like to kick off their shoes the moment they've settled down into their seats.

As an ex-flight attendant, I'm here to tell you that it is a dangerous thing to do. Why?

Besides stinking up the whole cabin, footwear is essential during an airplane emergency, even though it is not part of the flight safety information.

During an emergency, all sorts of debris and unpleasant ground surfaces will block your way toward the exit, as well as outside the aircraft. If your feet aren't properly covered, you'll have a hard time making your way to safety.

Imagine destroying your bare feet as you run down the aisle covered with broken glass, fires, and metal shards. Kind of like John McClane in Die Hard, but worse. Ouch!

Bruce Willis stars in 'Die Hard' (1988)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

A mere couple of seconds delay during an emergency evacuation can be a matter of life and death, especially in an enclosed environment. Not to mention the entire aircraft will likely be engulfed in panic and chaos.

So, the next time you go on a plane trip, please keep your shoes on during takeoff, even if it is uncomfortable.

You can slip on a pair of bathroom slippers if you really need to let your toes breathe. They're pretty useless in a real emergency evacuation, but at least they're better than going barefoot.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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