If you are wondering who the most courageous and proud female on ice is, then Google Surya Bonaly. I am wildly in love with this world-renowned lady and you should be too. So get ready to flip reading these five fun facts about the ice skating world’s flipping queen!
1. She Is Worldwide
Who is a three-time world silver medalist, a five-time European champion, the 1991 World Junior Champion and a nine-time French national champion? Why Surya Bonaly of course! This French-born diva, turned American citizen in 2004 (currently living in Las Vegas, NV) and is truly in a league of her own.
2. A Little White Lie Never Hurt Nobody
Some times you have to spice things up. Bonaly was born in Nice, France in 1973 and was adopted by Georges and Suzanne Bonaly shortly after. They initially told the media that their daughter had been born on the French island of Réunion because they thought this origin sounded more “exotic,” but when Bonaly got close to 18, she decided to find out about her origin on her own. Come to find out, where she was actually from was not so “Nice.” Pun intended. Oh well, a little white lie never hurt nobody.
3. Flips On Ice & Land
Although the ice is where she landed (more intended puns), the gymnasium is where she first discovered her talents. That’s right, Bonaly was initially a competitive gymnast. No wonder she made history with her magical flipping moves. Bonaly’s famous backflip landed at the 1991 World Championships. P.S. She is the ONLY figure skater ever to do this. Not the only female, but the only person. Ever.
4. She Will Flip You Off
While Bonaly was undeniably a golden girl she consistently ended up having to look at the silver lining in competitions, always winning the silver and rarely the gold. Why you ask? Well, doing backflips is RAD in real life, but illegal in ice skating–since all jumps have to land on one blade. Bonaly is clearly proficient in this area, however after getting fed up with constantly being the victim of racism in competitions, she decided to use her talent to make a statement. How did she do it? She decided to do her “illegal” backflip during the free skate section of the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. She was deducted, but she also wanted to be sure the judges knew she didn’t care, so she turned her back to them during the score reveal. After this, she retired from amateur competition. Deuces.
5. She Will Always Be A Champion
There’s no way to ever forget Surya Bonaly and her risk-taking backflips. Many have attempted to flip like her (all males) but no one can compare. After retiring from amateur ice skating, Bonaly went on to tour with the Champions on Ice skating show for several years (until it went out of business in 2007). Her most recent performance was as a guest skater during the Ice Theatre of New York’s December 2008 gala. I bet you can guess what move she did? Her backflip of course! Duh.
Robbie Ann Darby (RAD Experience) is a professional FitGirl, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer in NYC. Follow her sweaty life on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more fun health and fitness tips!
Check Out This Gallery Of Historical Black Women From The Winter Olympics!
The History Of Black Athletes In The Winter Olympics
1. Black Olympians
The 2014 Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia and for the first time in 90 years, Black athletes are at the forefront of the icy competition. Athletes like: Shani Davis and Lolo Jones are medal contenders in games like ice-skating and bobsledding that until now, have been mostly devoid of African-Americans. But before we long jump ahead, let's take a look back at Black Olympians who've paved the way.
2. Tai Babilonia (Figure Skating)
Tai Babilonia, with partner Randy Gardner, became the first Winter Olympian of African heritage in 1976 when she set blade on the frigid ice inside the ice skating rink. She is the 1979 World champion and a five-time (1976–1980) U.S. national champion. Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner qualified for the 1976 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Babilonia opened the gates for future skaters like Debi Thomas.
3. William "Willie" Davenport (Bobsledding)
William "Willie" Davenport became the first African-American to compete in the Summer and Winter Olympic games as a runner for the American bobsled team. He and field athlete Jeff Gadley were accepted to the U.S. bobsledding team for the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Because of the boycott of the 1980 games, he became the only U.S. track and field athlete to participate in the games.
4. Debi Thomas (Ice Skating)
Debi Thomas became the first Black Winter Olympian to win a medal, capturing the bronze in 1988 for U.S. skating. Thomas was known for her daring moves on the rink and was one of the only women to perfect a triple toe-triple toe combination which was rare for a female skaters in the 80s. Thomas was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000.
5. Surya Bonaly (Figure Skating)
When it comes to figure skating, there are few skaters who are as impressive as Surya Bonaly. She is the only female to attempt a quadruple toe loop jump and her ability to back flip and land on one blade. She placed 5th in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville and 4th at the 1994 games in Lillehammer and 10th at Nagano in 1998.
6. Vonetta Flowers (Bobsledding)
Vonetta Flowers turned to bobsledding after several failed attempts to make the Summer Olympics. With a nack for speed, she was chosen as the team's breakwoman. She became the first black athlete to win a Winter Olympics gold medal in the in the two-woman event at the 2002 Winter Olympics. She later retired from competition after the 2006 Winter Olympics.
7. Jarome Iginla (Hockey)
Jarome Iginla led the Canadian hockey team to victory at the 2002 Winter Olympics for the first time in 50 years, where he became the first Black man to win a gold medal.
8. Shani Davis (Speedskating)
Competitors in the Speedskating category at the 2014 Winter Olympic should be very afraid! Shani Davis seems unstoppable. After becoming the first Black athlete (from any nation) to win a gold medal in an individual sport at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games (and capturing the silver medal in the 1500 meter event), he defended his title at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, making him to first man to do so!
9. The Women’s US Olympic Bobsled Team
Two Black women will sit in the front of the bobsled sleigh for the first time in the history of the Winter Olympics. Track stars Lolo Jones, Lauryn Williams, Aja Evans, Jazmine Fenlator and veteran bobsledder Elana Meyers make up the 2014 US Women's Bobsled team.