The Sayings of Madame Surya

"Oh, chalk it up as another one of the sayings of Madame Surya."

It's been the funniest thing in figure skating for ages.

These comments circulate around the rink. Sometimes they even seem to overwhelm the "official results."

They really do. People wind up believing the "sayings of Madame Surya" rather than the official standings.

This is one of the things that makes me believe these come from Surya herself. The kid's smart. The kid can judge edges. And the kid doesn't seem to hold back for much of anybody.

I can only trace one or two of these phrases back to the Bonaly camp, but am assured by one and all that the rest "most likely" came from the darker-skinned side of the French team, as it has been called on occasion.

So. Herewith. An attempt at a comprehensive catalog of the Sayings.

Read 'em and weep. (I believe that comment was directed at a particular person, but more about that later...)

First. The classic paradigm. The "edge judging" phrases.

Better than McCoy's "I'm a doctor, not.... (an escalator, whatever)" lines on Star Trek. (That's the one from the sixties, children.)

The lines always start something like,

"Judge the edges of the blade, not...."

and have been known to finish up with such phrases as:

"the edges of the medal."

"the edges of the cheekbones" (obviously aimed at a certain person again....)

"the edges of the box" (when someone was counting on their brand-new imported skates to win them a competition)

"the edges of the wit" (apparently when Surya felt that she had been awarded a first place wrongly)

"the edges of the knives" (when two skaters had gone at each other rather head-to-head before a competition....yes, Mamma Atra finds out everything....and does Mamma Atra get credit for judging the edges of the skate blades on that one?)

"the edges of the costumes" (one evening when it was apparent that costuming was going to take the day, and both costumes looked rather heavily layered)

"the edges of the television screen" (when people apparently thought that sheer television ratings would influence the outcome -- and no, this one was well after 1994)

Another great one, one of the great lines of all time, was "So whose pretty little check boxes are we judging tonight?" That one has a long history. Obviously aimed at a certain person. Who has a reputation for just getting around the rotations and down on one foot and hoping sheer prettiness will carry them through....oh, but I'm giving myself away.... It's known as check-box judging. If some of the judges figure they can "check off" that a jump was "completed" (and you can hear the quotation marks around that word, indeed you can), they don't seem to be paying too much attention to the technical niceties (sorry, Surya, you didn't invent that one) of the jump. (That one is an old Wildcat phrase.)

Ummm...what are some more?

I'll put them down as I think of them. That's the way with "Madame Surya" comments. You're always thinking of them days later, cracking up with laughter, and telling them to friends.

Great teaching tool.

Whoever's been coming up with them (and none of these lines is mine), thanks!

It's gotten some technique beaten into some people's heads when apparently nothing else would do it.

(Now that one was mine.... )

Surya Vs. Ilia.

Forget Dick and Peggy.

Just hand these two the mikes.

Best thing for ratings since Dorothy Hamill, they'd be.

You want to hear comments defending the sheer technique of skating?

Answered back in the most drippingly venomous tones about artistry and how it is the most important of all?

Hang around the back rooms. The hotel lobbies. The arenas. You'll hear it. Surya vs. Ilia. "Going live," I believe they call it.

As far as I know, Tara and Michelle have never had anything like this going.

Nancy and Tonya were restrained from even making the first comments.

And even Katarina and Debi never got past a few perfunctory costume insults.

This is the real thing. And we have been assured that the comments will continue even into the professional ranks.

Now that's the Great Skate Debate.

You can never pin it down to Surya...someone else is always relaying the comments...or else they're heard around a corner when someone else might really have been standing there saying it....

And you can never be sure Ilia's answering back....too well guarded by his people....and will never say anything in public....

But does anyone really have any question that it's the "black bimbo of the Seineside eateries" and the "skinny little Russkie child who can't even turn a flip?"

Deniability uber alles. (BTW, we believe it was Surya who started the "uber alles" lines, but nobody has ever pinned it down...)

I caught at least five new lines from the Nagano catch basin, so you know there were at least fifteen. A vintage day by anybody's counting. And yes, it looked like some of those comments were developed during the performances....

For instance....when did this little prize set emerge: "Damn rusty edges!" "Damn rusty child!"

And in real verbal sparring, anything is fair. Anything goes. And Ilia has actually been nice to Surya on a couple of occasions. I promise.

I think that kind of commentary is accepted as a little different from "what Surya wasn't supposed to have heard." And let's leave it at that.

"After all, he's got to say something, doesn't he?"

You get the idea......