Surya Bonaly (born 15 December 1973) is a French former competitive figure skater. She is a three-time World silver medalist (1993–1995), a five-time European champion (1991–1995), the 1991 World Junior Champion, and a nine-time French national champion (1989–1997).
|Born||15 December 1973|
|Residence||Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.|
|Height||1.56 m (5 ft 1 1⁄2 in)|
|Former coach||Didier Gailhaguet, Annick Gailhaguet, André Brunet, Suzanne Bonaly, Tatiana Tarasova, Alain Giletti|
|Former skating club||CSG Pralognan |
AC Boulogne Billancourt
|Former training locations||Marlborough, USA|
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 Early years
- 2.2 1987–1988 to 1989–1990
- 2.3 1990–1991 season: World Junior and European titles
- 2.4 1991–1992 season: Second European title and first Olympic appearance
- 2.5 1992–1993 season: First World silver medal
- 2.6 1993–1994 season
- 2.7 1994–1995 season: Fifth European title
- 2.8 1995–1996 season
- 2.9 1996–1997 season
- 2.10 1997–1998 season: Third Olympics
- 2.11 Later career
- 3 Personal life
- 4 Programs
- 5 Competitive highlights
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Bonaly was born in Nice, France on 15 December 1973. Initially named Claudine, she was adopted at 18 months old by Suzanne and Georges Bonaly, who gave her the name Surya. Suzanne worked as a physical education teacher and Georges as an architect for the government. The couple initially told the media that their daughter had been born on the island of Réunion because they thought this origin sounded more "exotic". When Surya approached the age of 18 and began researching her birth history, her parents admitted that Surya's biological mother had been from the island but that Surya herself had not been born there. Didier Gailhaguet, who was Bonaly's first coach of her competitive career, admitted fabricating the story because he thought it would interest the press.
Bonaly was originally a competitive gymnast. She began skating as an eleven-year-old in Nice, in 1985, before relocating to Paris. Early media reports said that Gailhaguet discovered Bonaly at a public session, but years later, she said she had wanted to skate in Gailhaguet's competitive skating group and actually asked to participate. She broke both wrists before learning how to fall properly.
1987–1988 to 1989–1990Edit
The following season, Bonaly won the bronze medal at 1989 World Junior Championships and her first senior national title. She also began appearing on the senior level, placing eighth at the 1989 European Championships and tenth at 1989 World Championships.
Bonaly was awarded the silver medal behind Japan's Yuka Sato at the 1990 World Junior Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She finished fourth at the 1990 European Championships and ninth at the 1990 World Championships.
1990–1991 season: World Junior and European titlesEdit
Bonaly began the season with a pair of senior international medals – gold at the 1990 Grand Prix International de Paris and bronze at the 1990 Skate Electric. Making her final junior appearance, she stood on top of the podium at the 1991 World Junior Championships in Budapest, Hungary. After taking her third national title, she competed at the 1991 European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. She was awarded the gold medal ahead of two German skaters, Evelyn Großmann and Marina Kielmann.
1991–1992 season: Second European title and first Olympic appearanceEdit
In January 1992, Bonaly outscored Kielmann and Patricia Neske for the gold medal at the European Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. In February 1992, she took the athlete's oath at the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. During a practice session, she landed a back flip very close to Japan's Midori Ito and was told by officials not to do it again. Officials believed that other skaters might be intimidated in practice sessions. She became the first woman to attempt a quadruple toe loop in competition but the jump was not fully rotated in the air and she had to complete the rotation on the ice. Due to the under rotation, the quad would be downgraded under the ISU Judging System. Although the door was open for her to win a medal after Ito and Harding had finished in 4th and 6th in the short program, and Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan both made major errors in the long skating just before her, she placed 6th in the free skate and 5th overall.
After the Olympics, Bonaly parted ways with Gailhaguet and joined André Brunet, who coached her for one month. She concluded her season at the 1992 World Championships in Oakland, California. Ranked tenth in the short and 12th in the free, she finished 11th overall, making a number of jumping errors in both programs. She was so distraught with her poor performances and how she was marked that she considered turning pro midway through the event.
1992–1993 season: First World silver medalEdit
Bonaly was coached mainly by her mother from April to September 1992 and also made two month-long visits, in June and September, to Frank Carroll in southern California; although she wanted to stay with Carroll permanently, the French skating federation was opposed to its skaters training abroad. Alain Giletti became her coach, commuting four times a week by train from Tours to Paris, and her mother filled in during his absences.
Bonaly won the 1993 European Championships in Helsinki, having placed first in both segments ahead of Ukraine's Oksana Baiul and Germany's Marina Kielmann. At the 1993 World Championships in Prague, she took silver behind Oksana Baiul, who narrowly took the title with higher presentation scores. Like bronze medalist Chen Lu, Bonaly had significantly more technical content than the winner. Bonaly performed seven triples, a triple-triple combination, and two triple lutzes, while Baiul performed five triples but did not attempt a jump combination.
In January 1994, Bonaly placed first in all segments on her way to her fourth consecutive continental title at the Europeans Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. The other medalists were Baiul and Russia's Olga Markova. A month later, she competed at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. Ranked third in the short program and fourth in the free skate, she finished fourth overall behind Baiul, Nancy Kerrigan, and Chen Lu; she had two misses on the triple lutz, a singled jump early in her long program, and a fall on the second attempt.
At the 1994 World Championships in Chiba, Japan – where the three Olympic medalists did not compete – Bonaly's final overall score was equal to home country favorite Yuka Sato, who would be awarded the gold medal after a 5-4 tiebreaker decision. Upset by the result, Bonaly stood beside the medals platform rather than on it. She eventually stepped onto the platform but took off her silver medal after it was presented to her; she was immediately booed by the crowd. After the medals presentation, Bonaly's only statement to reporters was: "I'm just not lucky."
1994–1995 season: Fifth European titleEdit
In 1995, Bonaly won the European Championships for the fifth time, overtaking short-program winner Markova. At the 1995 World Championships in Birmingham, England, she placed fourth in the short program but rose to second after the free skate. She was awarded her third World silver medal, behind Chen Lu of China. For the third consecutive year she lost the gold medal by just one judge and one-tenth of a point. She believed it was a racist decision. Her free skate had the most difficult technical content, with two triple lutzes, two triple-triple combos, and seven triples. For Bonaly to win, another skater would need to place ahead of short program leader Nicole Bobek.
In autumn 1995, Bonaly competed in the inaugural ISU Champions Series. She finished third and fourth at her assignments, which was not enough to qualify to the seven-woman final. Ranked first in the short program and second in the free skate, Bonaly took silver behind Russia's Irina Slutskaya at the 1996 European Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. She finished fifth at the 1996 World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, having placed seventh in the short where she fell on a triple lutz, and fifth in the free. She landed no more than four clean triples in any free skate during the season.
In May 1996, Bonaly ruptured her achilles tendon while doing acrobatics. Due to the injury, she missed much of the following season. The French federation initially decided not to name her to the 1997 European Championships in Paris, believing that she lacked fitness, but Bonaly successfully appealed. She finished 9th overall after placing 6th in qualifying group B, 6th in the short program, and 10th in the free skate. She was not included in France's two-women team to the World Championships, passed over in favor of Vanessa Gusmeroli, the top French finisher at Europeans, and Laetitia Hubert who placed behind Bonaly at the same event.
1997–1998 season: Third OlympicsEdit
During the season, Bonaly was coached by Suzanne Bonaly and Tatiana Tarasova in Marlborough, United States. At the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Bonaly placed 6th in the short program. Unable to complete her planned routine or a successful triple lutz due to injury, she decided to perform a backflip landing on one blade during the free skate. Backflips had been banned since 1976 from competitions held under ISU rules. Bonaly received a deduction but was content with her decision to perform the move. She finished tenth in Nagano and retired from amateur competition after the event.
Bonaly toured with the Champions on Ice skating show for several years until it went out of business after 2007. She also performed in shows in Russia with Evgeni Plushenko and was a guest skater at Ice Theatre of New York's December 2008 gala in NYC where she successfully performed her backflip.
Bonaly was an off-screen character on the "Will on Ice" episode of NBC's Will & Grace which originally aired on 12 January 1999. In 2010, she was a finalist on La Ferme Célébrités season 3. In 2015, she underwent surgery after the discovery of numerous cysts along her spinal cord, ending her performing career.
She appeared in the episode "Judgement" of a 2019 Netflix documentary series that explored the lives of heroic individuals who bounced back from loss or perceived failure. In Bonaly's case, the episode focused on her defiance, "longevity" on the ice, and refusal to submit to conventions.
|Cup of Russia||4th|
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