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?
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I remember watching her back in the day. Everyone was always talking when she took the ice. I don't think that the criticism was all about race. I think that it was mostly about body type. She was strong and muscular. Also she was powerful and athletic. At the time, women were expected to be ethereal waif like ice princesses floating on air. She clawed her way powerfully across the ice and man could she jump. Figure skating just wasn't ready for her. She was ahead of her time.
I wish they allowed this move because it would lively the competition more. I wish there was another one of her no matter what ethnic background coming up in our generation again. It would be great to see someone outside the box in this sport more.
If I was a student coming into this I would love her to show me how to do this.
Its not racism.. If your not allowed to do a backflip during your performance your not allowed to do it! Those are the rules.. She broke a rule so she got judged for it. It has nothing to do with what color someone is. Stop pulling out the "race card" please! I thought she was an excellent skater and she did well too!
It's illegal for a good reason, the ice marks can be seriously dangerous for other skaters. Yet it's still incredible that she could even land such a thing.
But Jesus fucking christ. Bonaly was so underscored in her days. All of those close minded ISU mongrels only imagined small petite white girls as their perfect figure skating queens. Bonaly was a legend.
Great video. I am French and surya dominated French ice skating for the whole decade (9 Golds). I used to love watching her as a child and was disapointed when she did not do the back flip. However the number of skaters who can /could do it is not 4 but much higher. They dont do it in official competitions but in exhibitions etc.. For example philippe candeloro another French skater did it a lot and they even did it as a duo which was the coolest thing ever. Hundreds of skaters can pull it of, most men ( i only saw one other woman) and all land on both feet
Seriously guys? Just because she is the only one who did a backflip, and she had to win gold? Mirai Nagasu did triple Axel, and she didn't win gold. It's about whole performance! Artistry is also important, the whole package. Just watch Yuks Sato's performance in comparison with Bonaly's, she definitely deserved the gold, and Bonaly didn't have the right to complain. It was fairly judged. Just go see and compare their performances. Judge for yourself.
The girl was black, versatile, didn't have the "skater body type" and was described as a rebel. She pushed the boundaries and made history. And so my point is, why isn't she well know, where are her interviews, where is her movie. Seriously I want to know more about her
Everyone in this comment section has this while narrative build up about her being too badass and the racist sexist judges without actually knowing anything about figure skating, how its scored and how good she actually was. Like you just know shes black and she did a backglip which while impressive, is as mentioned illegal and of course theyre not going to change the rules on the spot for her. It wouldn't befairto everyone else who remember worked just as hard with the assumption that the rules would be in place. a
And even if they did she might not have medaled anyway.
Hands down, the best female skater in history. She didn't come onto the ice to do BALLET, she came to kick ass and take names. Hahahahaha! +Skating is a PRO-WHITE sport so yeah they hated that she was sexier, more fit, and well ahead of the technical evolution in figure skating.
IT DROVE THEM CRAZY, they thought it should have been a white girl. Hahahahahahaha.
I loved how she gave them the middle finger by, wiping the floor with the competition with her beyond human backflip. She knew they were assholes. That was her having the last laugh!
The judges are like how can a black girl perform so wonderfully well. No way. Let's bring her down. Then they remember some shitty rules. Skating is a sport not some merry go round. If she broke records she shd be credited for her efforts not discouraging and totally humiliating her.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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