Forgotten History: Figure Skater Surya Bonaly


The Black flipping figure skater is one of the greatest the sport has ever witnessed. She challenged the world’s perceptions of what a figure skater looks like and the possibilities for black girls. Surya was one of very few black girls to make it to the top in the competitive sport of figure skating. Although commentators claimed she couldn’t skate, and judges never gave her the high marks she remains one of the greatest figure skaters in history.

She is recognized as the only skater, male or female, to land a one-foot backflip, a move one else has ever accomplished in human history.

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. Surya was originally a gymnast who switched to skating at the age of 11.