We like Surya Bonaly (see right). Yes I know -- there's plenty of debate about her edges, lack of edges, the backflip she did in front of the judges at the 1998 Olympics (an illegal move) to conclude her amateur career, her refusing (initially) the world silver medal in 1994, the fake story about some island she was born in. She made the sport interesting for sure. Her list of accomplishments are impressive: nine-time French Champion, three-time world silver medalist, five-time European champion and a whole host of other titles. I remember very few interviews with her (in English anyway) so we were left to imagine what she was like off the ice.
I caught up with Surya at Ice Theatre of New York's 2008 benefit gala. She was a special guest skater for the event and wowed the audience with her trademark backflip, jumps and flexibility. She's still got it at 35 which she turned on December 15, so happy birthday Surya! At the cocktail hour, she and I chatted about her still-busy touring schedule, her life with mom in Las Vegas, and boyfriends and marriage. And why Las Vegas? According to Surya, she was initially supposed to settle in San Francisco after moving to the United States. But first, she spent a few weeks at the Cirque du Soleil acrobatics camp in Las Vegas and the next thing she knew, she bought a house in Vegas! So she packed up her family after informing them that there's been a slight change in plans. Overall, Surya said she's very content with her life and that the fans all over the world keep her young and healthy and skating! If you'll be visiting Las Vegas anytime soon, Surya and mom Suzanne teach at the Skating Club of Nevada, so why not book a lesson?
Interesting tidbit: After the interview, I asked Surya if she wished she were back in competition and she said that she actually requested to be reinstated so that she could compete in the 2006 Olympics in Torino, Italy. But alas, she was denied. Now how interesting would that be? How many points would she rack up with her triples and spin elements?