Surya Bonaly: Technical Skating

"Surya! Oh my God...."

The rumor ran through the White Ring. If you could see it. I saw heads snap around. Panic on people's faces.

What the hell was going on? Surya?

I saw it. I wasn't even there. Surya had the heartbeat of the White Ring stopped cold.

Suzanne Bonaly's hands had to be clutching the railing. Her support team must have been about to faint.

Back flip hell. Let me tell you the real story.

Surya was going for a quint.

Had to have been. Did you see her eyes?

Because of my background (see "That Gang of Kids") I have been privileged to see many completed quintuple jumps. And I tell you, biomechanically, you could have laid film of Surya's approach over that of "Belle's" and you would have seen absolutely no difference. None. And Belle was a quint master. Master.

She was going for it. A quint looks different from a quad looks different from a sext. Takeoff warmups and all. And if I'd had the mike around my neck that night, I'd've called a quint.

Look at it. She was pushing those crossover edges together like a cornered cat. They almost made one line on the ice. Her arms had that hard stretch to them that you have to have to brace yourself for a quint. And her little legs were pumping at about "quint speed." This is an attack jump. You fly.

I think she only backed out of it because she didn't want to embarrass the fans with a bad jump, should she miss. She literally looked at the judges and put on the brakes. "Not in front of you!" And settled for a back flip. Go look at her takeoff edges. She was not set up for a flip. Compare it to other flips of hers. She was nowhere near set up.

And I'll tell you how I think half the boardsiders in Nagano knew something was up. Surya telegraphs her jumps (her "unplanned" ones) to within five seconds. She gives you about a minute's warning. They all knew this. Face expressions were too specific. It was obvious Surya had outstayed her "count time." What people may not know is that there is generally very little variation in Surya's timing. If she doesn't "go off" within a minute ten, you know something's wrong. What is Surya planning? The words almost literally flew around the "catch basin," where the "cool people" sit. A minute twenty. I won't tell you who was panicked. A minute thirty. Oh yes, Surya. One thirty-five. She's starting to show real quint edges. She's leaning into it. One forty. Oh my god. One forty-five. Oh shit. What is she doing? Barreling around the rink like a scalded cat, that's what. One-fifty. Payoff time, Surya. (CBS caught it nicely -- don't know who else did). One fifty one-two-three-four-five-six. The rink was yours. And the way a couple of the cameramen were hugging you, they must have known. Good catch on the feet, guys. This could have been historical film.

One fifty-seven. Launch. Nailed it. I'm initiating an award and praying Nike doesn't sue me. The Piper Loyd "Wings" award. "I am woman. Watch my edges." Go for it, girl!

Aw. It was just a back flip.

But you got 'em. You got 'em. Real good.

Lord. Anybody got NHK footage? What was that Midori Ito was yammering into the headset?

Whooo. Get 'em, honey.

Payback time. Sheer payback.

God, this is fun! BTW, Surya, who had the nerve to be judging your turn to the audience at the end? Who was actually writing down shit?

Just thought you'd like to know....

Don't be so damned obvious. Dude.

Five Minutes to Ice Time

Do you like your costume? If not, go get the scissors.

Where are your lines? Are you ready?

Whose hatred are you going to throw back in their face tonight?

"Ladies and gentlemen, from France, Surya Bonaly!"

What Do You Mean, Surya's Jumps Are Unplanned?
The Sayings of Madame Surya