March 29th: Surya Bonaly

surya-bonaly-profile

I love Surya Bonaly, she’s probably my favorite woman that I have talked about this month; she’s flipping awesome (it’s a pun, it’ll be funny in a few sentences).  Bonaly is a french figure skater, and is one of the only four women to win the European Figure Skating Championships five times. Additionally, she finished fourth in the 1994 Olympics, but that’s not the reason she’s so amazing.  Not only is she one of the only three women to attempt to land a quadruple jump, she is the only known skater in the world, male or female, who can land a backflip on one foot.  Doing a backflip is illegal in figure skating competitions.  Unofficially, because it’s extremely dangerous, and officially because it landed on two feet, and all figure skating jumps must be landed on one.  During the 1998 Olympics, Bonaly knew that she was not going to be able to medal so she decided to go for it and did a backflip during her routine, landing it on one foot.  However, it was really more than just a breathtakingly amazing move.  Throughout Bonaly’s career, she faced discrimination that other skaters were not subjected to.  As one of the few black skaters at the time, she had to deal with racism from the judges, as well as many critics shaming her for the way she looked.  People would say that she didn’t look like a figure skater, that is, that she looked to broad and muscular and not dainty like the traditional skater looked.  Commentators often judged her because they believed she focused too much on the athleticism of figure skating, and sacrificed the artistry of it, which doesn’t even make sense if you think about it.  People would even go so low as to make fun of her admittedly eccentric costumes (I think they were cool).  Despite all the hate she received, Bonaly went on to become one of the most respected figure skaters of all time.  She went to the Olympics three times, placed second at the World Championships three years in a row, and as previously mentioned, won the European Championships five times.  Bonaly kept performing after her official career ended in ‘98, and the last recorded time she did her backflip on ice was during a 2012 performance when she was 41 years old.

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