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How Backflipping Black Figure Skater Surya Bonaly Changed Sports Forever

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Surya Bonaly is the only female figure skater in history who can complete a very illegal and dangerous backflip — yet the black figure skater never won gold. Did race play a part in this? POPSUGAR Girls' Guide is your guide to living your '20s in style! We cover everything from DIY fashion and beauty, pop culture and comedy, recipes and food trends, celebrity news, and more. We also LOVE YouTubers and are lucky enough to have featured some of our favorites on PSGG, including Tyler Oakley, Ingrid Nilsen (Missglamorazzi), and many others. Subscribe to POPSUGAR Girls' Guide http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=popsugargirlsguide Find us on Snapchat! Username is popsugar
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Text Comments (5125)
잃어버린별 (13 hours ago)
She's not an Ice Princess, She's a FREAKING ICE QUEEN
JUST ME (1 day ago)
1:59 id like to see you try that backflip
Altamonte Doctors (1 day ago)
Even this bitch is whining about racism give me a fucking break when does this shit end Obama was President y'all had your moment!!!!!!! Move on
Tammy Hubbard (1 day ago)
she was way to dark if she was lighter it wouldn't be a problem
Tress Braga (1 day ago)
Absolutely atrocious reporting. I liked Surya, and I was always impressed with her backflip. But there were too many problems with her, which the video fails to address. First of all, she was a gymnast who switched over to skating at a relatively late age. There were, thus, deficiencies in her basic skating skills. Her stroking was horrendous, and her overall footwork was so subpar that the only way she could compete was if she landed all her jumps. In terms of her jumping ability, I'd say that she was very good, especially between 1993-95. The only problem I could find with her jumping was that she would telegraph her jumps, which meant that she would take a longer period of time to set up for jumps, which made it look very obvious that she was about to jump and this affected her choreography and presentation. She was also a good spinner, but she did not hold her positions long enough, and they looked unfinished. Moreover, she didn't really have good choreography; she would mostly choreograph herself. She also assigned her mother, who was not a skater, as her coach. Again, she did not surround herself with experts that could have guided her better. There was also the issue of her lying about her roots, and she made it appear that her life was more exotic than it really was. I think that the international judges resented this since it gave skating such bad press when the truth came out. In terms of racism, I agree that it probably was a factor; but the fact that the video cites the 1994 World Championships as an example of this is strange since the winner was non-white, just like Surya. If you look at Yuka Sato's performance, it was obvious that her footwork, speed, and technique were all better than Surya's. Yuka also landed all of her jumps. For the video to complain about Surya's 10th place finish despite landing a backflip at the 1998 Olympics, I found this to be grossly irresponsible an analysis since Surya only landed two clean triple jumps for her long program (and those were two triple toe loops --the easiest of the jumps), whereas the top skaters were landing six or seven triples. She also fell, by the way, and she under-rotated and omitted the more important/difficult jumps. She also ended her program with her back to the judges, effectively insulting them. I think Surya could have been a world champion had she trained better, and really refined her artistry and basic skating movements and footwork. But her rebellious spirit led her to do things on her own terms. Unfortunately, by doing so, she also turned her back on the technicalities and finer points of skating.
Alexandra Anceno (3 days ago)
She just spilled the hot tea in the last part of the video!!!! ☕☕☕☕
Bubs Bubbles (3 days ago)
fucking hate white ricists hoes, this ain’t offensive, once been bullied for being Asian because I was good at soccer
kawaii lol (4 days ago)
Not to be rude but when i first saw Yuka Sato.... I thought she was a male
Harden Thicke (5 days ago)
I'm sure Tonya Harding would love her.
ava Fisher (8 days ago)
That is not fair that she was treated differently because of her race I think she deserved a gold medle
corhydron111 (8 days ago)
so... she was the kanye of ice skating
illiam way (10 days ago)
we are not blind, we can see she is BLACK
danyall nadeem (11 days ago)
She should have been awarded gold
Lelah Fletcher (11 days ago)
I'm not going to say she didn't face racism and defiance in 90s figure skating, because she absolutely did. However, the backflip was banned in 1976 so it really didn't have anything to do with her specifically. Judges have and always will use bias in scoring, however, it is supposed to be that those figure skaters who medal should have a good balance between artistry AND athleticism. That's why the current scoring system now scores artistry (Component Score) and athleticism (Technical Score) separately and are later combined for the total score. As for her skating sounding "scratchy" that is something that shows poor balance and edgework so it's definitely not a sign of good basic skating skills, but rather a lacking skating skills foundation. That lady was way too harsh though in saying Surya didn't know how to skate, obvs she's an fantastic skater. Having said all that, her protest and outspokenness were awesome and she was definitely an amazing skater and badass woman who competed in a sport that is known to be biased and conservative. Note: I have been a figure skater all my life which is why I felt compelled to clear up some of those technical issues weren't necessarily the result of racism or bias, but are issues in skating that are well known as valid variables or deductions in scoring. Thanks!
MrRod (11 days ago)
What part of figure skating don't you people get, it's not about being more athletic, if it was then they would call it ice gymnasium or gymnasium on ice...but is not it's figure, figure...it's been this way before the women even existed.
bigbangnone (11 days ago)
She took a path which demonstrated that she was superior to many of the top skaters, and although the judges had no criteria at the time to reward her with the metals that she clearly earned, many spectators regard her performance achievements as the best. And we know ......what goes on behind the competitions. Rich kid money....paying for all the ballet lessons and top coaches. Those difficulty factors were not considered..... Another reason why many spectators regard her as the best.
Nino Brown (12 days ago)
And why was it illegal?
The judges were shit wads >:(
RCPRO B (13 days ago)
Why do you have to say black skater? Seriously
Bernie Liu (14 days ago)
If u want a princess go to d palace!!! She gutsy, beautiful, nice skin color n skates well.. I think it's Racism!!
Faye Gwenn (14 days ago)
Why do some people have to make everything about race and gender? She is a great figure not because she is a woman or she is black, but because she is a truly unique individual.
Zombie Lux (16 days ago)
She is the winner in my eyes! She deserved #1 spot
Luna Delight (17 days ago)
They should make i,Tonya a series and add i,Surya. I would watch that.
Melon Pom (17 days ago)
Tbh blacks are better than whites some just don't get raised properly
Melon Pom (15 days ago)
Maximilian Jens and plus many ethnicity people don't get raised right so if me saying some black people don't get raised right offended you I apologize for that
Melon Pom (15 days ago)
Maximilian Jens lol can u read I said some black ppl aren't raised right but a lot are its just that ppl see us as ghetto nasty and uneducated and it pisses me off
Maximilian Jens (15 days ago)
BTS Back Meat So you are denoting that black people aren't raised right, due to what specific reason may I ask, and how does that differ to other diverse ethnic groups?
Melon Pom (15 days ago)
Maximilian Jens and i actually read book unlike most ppl
Melon Pom (15 days ago)
Maximilian Jens no honey I'm black lol
Melon Pom (17 days ago)
Racist judges
Winnie Cho (17 days ago)
Figure skating isn't about the jumps and moves, it's mostly about the artistry. I think she is an amazing skater but the video kind of makes Yuka sound like a bad guy even though she actually was a better skater who presented the sport as it was meant to be presented and did a beautiful job of it.
hal hibben (18 days ago)
She's a total badass.
Some kitten (19 days ago)
She's a badass
Abigail Kyra (19 days ago)
She's not an Ice Princess. She's a badass inspiring Ice Queen.
Leslie Perez (19 days ago)
Tonya Harding was pretty muscular too, and she didn't represent the "America's Sweetheart" look, so people preferred Nancy Kerrigan even though Harding was better skills wise.
She's not a swan cause she is a Snowy owl, they don't stay in the ice, they fly gracefully and freely above the ice.
Mimi Zoldyck (21 days ago)
I love herrrr😍😍 yass girl tell themmm
zeldafreak701 (23 days ago)
She and Tonya Harding were powerhouse skaters that shook the Skating world and consistently victims of judge favoritism.
Ron Ronizetti (24 days ago)
One must give her credit for landing that flip on one foot! - Needless to say, several people could and had done it before in two footed landings, including America's own Terry Kubica doing it first in the Olympics back in 1976! I would argue that landing it on one foot "makes it a legal jump", BUT, we skaters don't make the rules. Technically, they'd want a jump landed on one EDGE of the blade. I would also have to agree with Sandra Bezic, Suria's skating was VERY choppy and abrupt, it was more like a gymnasts floor routine on skates. This eliminated the natural "flow" associated with skating. That said, she was a fierce competitor ... REFUSING a medal however was insulting and a poor display of judgement that cost her dearly. Skating judges NEVER forget!
No matter how much good it is. Its Illegal Move and that how all sports works. You cannot count something if you did something illegal.. If she was injured while doing backflip and landed her neck instead. Whos going to pay for it. U think the media will not protest the skating world if she died due to the backflip. our neck can be easily be broken.
Pearl Anderson (24 days ago)
She ain’t a princess she’s a warrior!
Quincy Haron (25 days ago)
Jealously at its finest!! And it's all thanks to that >>powerful melanin<<.
Beth G. (25 days ago)
A trans skater is next I suppose.
Samanthia Vallery (27 days ago)
Thats how they did tanya harding they never judged her fairly be cause she did not fit the look of an "ice princess"
Emani Parker (27 days ago)
She was a badass for sure, my good sis wasn’t tryna be no regular on the ice 😂😂😂😂😂 miss her with that.
I got goosebumps
Gin Sang (28 days ago)
Yannie Arts (29 days ago)
The backflip should really count as a point..
Wendy Aviles (29 days ago)
She inspired me so let her do the thing she want she is wonderful how she is
walter smith (1 month ago)
She was quite amazing. I loved watching her skate
Justice Westlake (1 month ago)
I get that it was special, but if a move is illegal, don't do it???
Supreme Bape (1 month ago)
she was the ugly ducking who did illegal moves
nick claus (1 month ago)
if she was white her story would been in history books already make a movie about this ice Queen !!!
Pulse RESURRECTED (1 month ago)
Fuck this Video & Channel
Francisco C. (1 month ago)
Also we were born to make history (yuri on ice)
Francisco C. (1 month ago)
If the judges did a backflip and broke their ankles, I would be satisfied because wtf why would backflip \split be illegal?
Erika Hart (1 month ago)
It's sad that she seems to internalize the racist treatment toward her. "When you're black everyone knows that you have to do better than anyone else who's white." I mean, she can say all she wants that racism and gender stereotypes didn't play into her losses- but by acknowledging that she has to be better than white figure skaters to receive the same admiration and recognition...That screams racist to me.
What a queen
Jordan Marshall (1 month ago)
Why did they have to say backflipping BLACK figure skater like her being black is not obvious
Lauren Thompson (1 month ago)
Very illegal and dangerous backflip. You mean totally fucking awesome backflip. As if doing triple trip jumps or quads aren't "dangerous," right? That's why ice skating is so badass. 99% of us are soared AF to fall on the ice. With sharp blades to boot. It's slipper it's cold it's hard. The ice when you hit it, and hats to even stay upright on! It's slippery. And then comes along Syria doing a muthafucling backflip. Idgaf. That is an accomplishment and should be recognized as such. I think that they would still not allow it even of she was white. But was she ever first on the podium? I seen bronze a lot wtf is that about? I don't know how she didn't get so fed up with the bullshit unfairness and kept skating when she was always being second oelr third to lighter skinned skaters who might not have always been better than her. Maybe that's why she did the backflip. Like, go head, give that bitch the gold medal, bet she can't do this fuck y'all!
Naveed Hussain (1 month ago)
U r such a racist....y mention the word black...can't u just say her name and do u mention white for all white figure skaters out there?
Chris Night (1 month ago)
"When you're black, everybody knows you have to do better than anyone else who's white." But she lost to Yuka Sato, who was white? Next year to Chen Lu from China? Hmm...
stone's creativity (1 month ago)
She was "born to make history"
Maria Phoebe Fernandez (1 month ago)
Ana (1 month ago)
Your numbers went #3, #2, and #3...
Repent (1 month ago)
Basically she's famous for being the only black.
Insperational Johnson (1 month ago)
Why does she have to be a Black Figure Kater? Why can't she be just a Figure Skater? People don't say she's a White Figure s skater. This is what's wrong with the world.
Fátima ArMarques (1 month ago)
Haha! Bonaly didn't fit the criteria? C'mon. Now it's all about throwing quads (men) and biased charm (ladies) ISU is in hell now.
Thirukumaran Sabapathi (1 month ago)
Total Badass!
Harley Sheppard (1 month ago)
how did I get here from skateboard tricks?
Random Videos (1 month ago)
That looks kinda painful when landing
Tf she should've claimed all the gold medals tbh. Fuck those judges. If she can do all those moves while the other skaters can only do boring ass routines, she should win those medals.
Corgi Trash (1 month ago)
omg having her as a coach like :O hey are you that backfliping woman oh k coach me please
detective c (1 month ago)
0:07: Number #3 2:15: Number #3
Vanitas Star (1 month ago)
Figure skating is such a beautiful sport but the problem with it is that it involves too much politics, bias views and discrimination. If you can't fit into the mold of what the judges want you won't ever win.
azercalicia (1 month ago)
I remember watching her when I was little. She was one if my favorites because she was tough & fearless.
Pharoh B (1 month ago)
She was amazing. Very under appreciated talent.
Anthony Stewart (1 month ago)
All of the racists trolls in the comments are too stupid to know what a racist "dog whistle" is even though they do it every day of their pathetic lives. "How is it racist?" they ask. Please, don't bother to respond to these bumbling idiots. We shouldn't have to cater to their inability to THINK. Read a book---a real one, and educate your pitiful selves.
Laila Ibrahim (1 month ago)
They wouldnt give Tonya Harding a chance because she wasnt the kind of white person that they wanted representing ice skating. Now imagine being black and doing this. Good on both these women doing whats impossible and showing their skills regarding of the skewed scoring systems that were in place.
Daphne Bernal (1 month ago)
I can't even do a front flip and figure skate! Wow this girl is amazing⛸💯💯
A.M. (1 month ago)
shes hot like damn i wish i looked like her
Freddy JS (1 month ago)
The “split” backflip is a layout step-out
She's amazing!
Galaxy_ StarAngle_ (1 month ago)
She was great and I think that if you do the tricks, then that makes it more graceful than just skating and moving your arms around.
Master Chef (1 month ago)
Incredibly stupid of her follow the rules or you'll get nowhere
Lance Cruz (1 month ago)
I’m no gymnast but I’m pretty sure a backflip with a split in the air is and landing on one foot is called a layout stepout?
Little Wolf Taima (1 month ago)
This reminded me so much of feeling incredibly uncomfortable and out of place in ballet lessons to the point I quit a year in. I was constantly told my butt stuck out too much... I have always had a more athletic muscular figure, too. They said it at the end but as soon as I saw the title, I said to myself 'of course, when you're black you have to OVERperform in order to catch people's attention or surpass their expectations'. People are always SURPRISED at my intelligence, artistic ability, equestrianism, piano-playing, that I'm well-spoken etc. I once had a friend's mother watch me eat then congratulate me on having fucking table manners. Every compliment is quietly finished with '...for a black person'. When you're black you always feel the need to impress people or prove them wrong. You start being obsessively over polite, quiet and subservient to not play up to the negative stereotypes. You feel under constant scrutiny and that if you don't excel, it is a poor reflection on your entire race. It's fucking stressful.
Suga Is My Bias (1 month ago)
Its not really nice to call her "black women". You can just call her a women or someting else except that
Rin水韵 (1 month ago)
I knew someone can do it!!
Johnny Clapyourhands (2 months ago)
She went off code and denied racism. Just to get a teaching job
Purple Dawn (2 months ago)
I love Bonaly! But I would like to see a video on her that doesn't speak about race for once. Can't we just leave it at "awesome figure skater"? With her skating style I think it is weird that she didn't go for a more technincal sport like gymnastics. She is a huge athlete and figure skating may have been a bit of a miss match. I'm all for the jumps, but many of the judges aren't. I kind of wish they would divide figure skating into 2 categories. One for more technical stuff and one more focused on choreography. That would have made it a bit more fair I think.
pablo Hill (2 months ago)
Lol she made because she doing gymnastics instead of skating
Kibet Kittony (2 months ago)
She is so inspiring 💋💋💗
Gloria0222 YT (2 months ago)
Those judges are horrible and soooo racist!! These things are the things that makes me most mad.
Borris Müller (2 months ago)
Wow , people are really assholes
Farah nabila (2 months ago)
Jolene8 (2 months ago)
'Scratchy' skates on the ice?.... *silence* That coupled with the princess statement, made me choke up a little... Why?! She obviously loved and lived it, and any female who earns their way to the Olympics is a QUEEN!
Hannah Stahl (2 months ago)
She should have done floor routine if she wanted complex moves over choreography
Deise Vitali (2 months ago)
i was a lottle girl about 8 or 9 and i was figure skating at the time and i w a s so lroud and happy to see Notber skater tbat looled like me
Adrién Diamond (2 months ago)
i'd rather watch her performances they were more entertaining
Jim Yoo (2 months ago)
A Queen!~👑
Faith Cooleridge (2 months ago)
LOL....they really want to up what she was. I wonder why? She NEVER dominated anything. The media never waged shit against her. She got a lot more press simply because she was black. The reason the others didn't do a back flip because it didn't matter. Probably nearly every skater could do it with training if it were worth some points. The reason she didn't get high artistic points is because she wasn't artistic. She was a big clunky skater who did jumps and a back flip in exhibition skating. This video is a crock of shit.
Faith Cooleridge (2 months ago)
The only time she dominated was in the minor competitions when not all the top tier skaters were competing. She never dominated in Worlds or the Olympics. The only time she was on the podium in the Olympics she acted like a self entitled bitch. Breaking all protocol. It's just a fact. I've nothing against her. In fact I love watching her. It's just that this video is a bunch of garbage.
Maximilian Jens (2 months ago)
Faith Cooleridge she did dominate check her stats fool. Plus the media was very rude against her. You might not wanna admit that she faced racism, doesn't mean it wasn't there
Travis Hayes (2 months ago)
I've been told similar things. I'm no figure skater. Just a regular student in grad school. My dad's told me for years that "You have to be 10% better than your white friends to be on a fair playing ground."
Karen Meng (2 months ago)
SHES SUPER NICE, I went to lesson, and she helped me so much! AND SHE IS FUCKIN AWESOME
Amy MH Chan (2 months ago)
You know shes that blindingly flawless when they can't even give her the gold. Put your sunglasses on and recognise. She set a standard here AND NOT A ONE OF YOU can live up to it. They made it illegal because its impossible for them, but not this beautiful figure skater.
LyRi (2 months ago)

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