Bonaly in 1992
Country represented France
Born December 15, 1973 (age 42)
Residence Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Height 1.56 m (5 ft 1 1⁄2 in)
Former coach Didier Gailhaguet, Suzanne Bonaly, Alain Giletti
Skating club AC Boulogne Billancourt
Surya Bonaly (born December 15, 1973) is a French-American former figure skater. She is a three-time World silver medalist, a five-time European champion, the 1991 World Junior Champion and a nine-time French national champion.
1 Early life
3 Personal life
4 Competitive highlights
Bonaly was born in Nice, France on December 15, 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 began skating in Nice before relocating to Paris. Early reports said that Gailhaguet discovered Bonaly when she was a 10-year-old skater 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.
Bonaly went on to become a nine-time French national champion (1989–1997), five-time European champion (1991–1995), and three-time World silver medalist (1993–1995). At the Winter Olympics, she placed 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 the only figure skater ever to do so; she did it at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. At the 1992 World Championships, she became the first and only female to attempt a quadruple toe loop jump. Her jump was not fully rotated in the air and she had to complete the rotation on the ice, making it a triple and not a quadruple.
At the 1993 World Championships in Prague, Bonaly took silver behind Oksana Baiul, who narrowly took the title with higher presentation scores. At the 1994 World Championships in Chiba, Japan – where Nancy Kerrigan, Oksana Baiul and Chen Lu did not compete – gold went to home country favorite Yuka Sato and silver to Bonaly. This placement was made after 5-4 tiebreaker decision as the two scored equal points overall. 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." She won her third World silver medal, behind Chen Lu of China, at the 1995 World Championships in Birmingham, England.
In May 1996, Bonaly ruptured her achilles tendon, causing her to miss much of the following season.
At the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, Bonaly finished well out of reach of the gold medal following the short program. Unable to complete her planned routine due to injury, Bonaly decided to perform her backflip landing on one blade during the free skate. The move, illegal in competition, caused a stir and resulted in a deduction but Bonaly was content with her decision. Bonaly then retired from amateur competition.
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 back flip.
Bonaly was an off-screen character on the "Will on Ice" episode of NBC's Will & Grace which originally aired on January 12, 1999. In 2010, she was a finalist on La Ferme Célébrités season 3.
Bonaly became an American citizen in January 2004. She lived in Las Vegas, Nevada for a time and currently lives in Minnesota where she works as a coach.
Bonaly, a vegetarian, has appeared in many PETA ads in both English and French, namely acting against Canada's seal hunt and against the fur trade.
Event 87–88 88–89 89–90 90–91 91–92 92–93 93–94 94–95 95–96 96–97 97–98
Olympics 5th 4th 10th
Worlds 10th 9th 5th 11th 2nd 2nd 2nd 5th
Europeans 8th 4th 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 2nd 9th 6th
Cup of Russia 4th
Lalique 7th 1st 1st 5th 1st 1st 1st 3rd
Nations Cup 1st
NHK Trophy 2nd 1st 1st 2nd 4th
Skate America 6th 5th 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Skate Canada 7th 1st 3rd
Goodwill Games 3rd 1st
Nebelhorn 2nd 1st
Junior Worlds 14th 3rd 2nd 1st
French Champ. 4th 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st 2nd