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Surya Bonaly: Figure Skating in a league of her own

As the Winter Olympics continue, I’m reminded of the exquisite greatness of World Class Figure Skater Surya Bonaly. The world has never seen a skater like her because she created a league of her own.

She won nine national titles in France, three World silver medals, five European championships, and more.

Photo: Francesco Cavallari

Photo: Francesco Cavallari

Most notably, she created, and is the only figure skater to do the “Bonaly,” a backflip where she lands on only one blade. For folks who just can’t seem to get their history right, the backflip was already ruled as an illegal move, but in an effort to fully express her creativity and leave a trademark move in her sport, Surya adjusted the backflip to actually align with the International Skating Union’s rules – that all jumps have to land on one blade – by landing on one foot. Although many other skaters were allowed to perform and establish trademark moves, the ISU refused to officially recognize the “Bonaly” by also ruling her version of the backflip illegal.

During her competitive years, she faced a significant amount of body shaming, disdain for her dazzling costumes and makeup, discriminatory scoring that cost her medals and championships and blatant antagonization in an attempt to make her quit figure skating altogether (seen in the video below).

In typical LOUD Girl fashion, and rightfully so, she threw a middle finger to the establishment by continuing to express her creativity in skating, while simultaneously spotlighting – on the world stage – unfair scoring practices by figure skating judges.

During the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships, she courageously rejected being awarded a silver medal, when she knew she deserved gold. She definitely has the highest marks of a LOUD Girl!

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