Surya Bonaly (born December 15, 1973) is a French-American Professional figure skater.
When Bonaly first began to compete at the international level, her coach at the time, Didier Gailhaguet, fabricated a story that she had been born on Reunion Island before being adopted by the Bonalys in France. This was widely reported by the international media (including, for example, a lengthy feature during the CBS television broadcast of the 1989 World Championships) before the story was finally debunked. Bonaly now lists her birthplace as Nice. Later in her career, Bonaly was coached by her adoptive mother, Suzanne, a former physical education teacher.
Bonaly went on to become a nine-time winner of the French National Championships (1989 - 1997) and won the European Figure Skating Championships five times (1991 - 1995). She was a three-time silver medalist at the World Figure Skating Championships (1993 - 1995), but she never managed to win a world title, despite her strong jumping ability. Nor did she ever win a medal in the Winter Olympics, placing 5th in 1992 in Albertville, 4th in 1994 at Lillehammer, and 10th in 1998 at Nagano. Bonaly took the Athlete's Oath at the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Formerly a competitive Gymnast, Bonaly is famous for her backflip landed on only one blade; she is considered the only skater in the world capable of this move. She is also known for having attempted and apparently landed a quadruple Toe loop jump at the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships - the first and only female skater to have done so. Bonaly was never credited with successfully landing the jump by the International Skating Union.
She competed in the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships in Chiba, Japan. With Nancy Kerrigan, Oksana Baiul and Chen Lu out, it was an open field for the championship. Bonaly skated a clean performance but, according to the judges, home country favorite Yuka Sato had a better skate. Bonaly thought she was robbed and defiantly stood beside the medals platform rather than on it.
Although she was coaxed into standing on the platform, Bonaly took off her silver medal after it was presented to her and was immediately booed by the crowd. After the medals presentation, a crying Bonaly was greeted by reporters. She believed she was robbed of gold in 1993 as well, as she thought she should have beaten Oksana Baiul at that particular World Championship competition (Baiul narrowly won the world title, having been outjumped and outspun by Bonaly but receiving higher artistic impression scores).
Bonaly suffered a very serious injury, rupturing her Achilles tendon, in the summer of 1996 that caused her to miss much of the following season. Although she returned to competition for the 1997-98 season, her jumping never returned to its previous level.
Having lost any chance for a medal during the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan due to a fall on a triple Salchow jump, Bonaly decided to end her amateur career with a symbolic gesture: with nothing left to lose, she performed her signature back flip - an illegal move under International Skating Union rules - in front of the judges. She then proceeded to finish her program with her back facing the judges.
Bonaly resides in Las Vegas, Nevada, and became an American citizen in June 2004. She toured with the Champions on Ice skating show for several years until they went out of business after the 2007 season. Bonaly also recently completed shows in Russia with Evgeni Plushenko and was a guest skater at Ice Theatre of New York's 2008 gala in NYC.
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Appearances in pop cultureEdit
- Bonaly was an off-screen character on the Will on Ice episode of NBC's Will & Grace.
- Bonaly, a vegetarian, has appeared in many PETA ads namely acting against Canada's baby seal hunt and the against Fur trade in both English and French.