ASPEN, Colo. -- After advancing to the six-woman final at Winter X Games Aspen 2012 Sunday, American Skier X racer Langely McNeal was disqualified for wearing a hair tie around the cuff of her pants.
McNeal was also wearing a band on her thigh as a tribute to fallen freeskier Sarah Burke, who died Jan. 19 after an injury sustained in the Park City, Utah superpipe Jan. 10, but the disqualification was not a result of that band, according to Scott Guglielmino, Senior Vice President of Programming and Global X for ESPN.
The disqualification followed a protest by French skier Marielle Berger alleging McNeal's attire allowed an unfair aerodynamic advantage.
The statement from Guglielmino read: "Langely McNeal was not disqualified for wearing a Sarah Burke band. She was informed by our race director that she was disqualified for wearing an elastic band around each of her pant cuffs that were not Sarah bands but were clearly a violation of the Winter X Games clothing rules.
"The Winter X Games has allowed those Sarah tribute bands to be distributed from the athlete lounge and has allowed athletes to wear the Sarah bands in competition throughout the entire event."
Berger filed her protest after McNeal finished second out of six skiers in her semifinal heat, from which the top three qualified for the final. Once McNeal was disqualified, Berger -- who placed fourth in the same semifinal -- was awarded McNeal's berth in the final. Berger went on to finish fourth in the final.
In an interview in the parking lot as she was leaving the Buttermilk Mountain venue, McNeal said she learned her result was being protested as she was hopping on a snowmobile for a ride to the top of the course. "Someone grabbed me and said, 'You're being protested for your outfit,' " McNeal said. "I was really confused because I'm wearing my mom's ski pants and I'm the only one out there without a spandex suit."
Winter X Games rules state that "no straps, fastening devices or other methods can be used to tighten the suit material closer to the body." In addition, "The gap in the material must be a minimum of 80mm/3-1/8 inches, measured everywhere around the circumference of each leg at the mid-thigh to the top of the boot ..."
McNeal said: "I had a hair tie on my boot, but your pants have to be, I think, 3 millimeters off your boot, which they definitely were. And I wish they had a measuring tool; I definitely would've passed. I asked for one, but they didn't supply one."
In the semifinal heat in question, McNeal -- the only American in Sunday's field -- was near the back of the pack when four racers in front of her crashed. She and eventual gold medalist Marte Gjefsen zoomed by the four women on the ground and coasted to the finish line. Berger didn't cross the line for another 14 seconds.
"If someone had a problem with my clothing, they should've said something in training. I've been up there all week," McNeal said. "It should be about skiing and not about clothing and strategizing some protest that has nothing to do with it."
McNeal also said an event official told her she could race in the consolation final, but not the actual final. She said she declined that opportunity "out of principle."