The 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang were historic for American figure skating. Mirai Nagasu became the first woman on Team USA to ever land a triple axel at the Olympics, and we were beyond impressed (especially after learning from Oscar nominated film I, Tonya just how hard that is!) However, we soon stumbled upon a video online that absolutely blew our minds and took our perception of figure skating to the next level! A viral clip shows French figure skater Surya Bonaly landing a backflip on one foot at the 1998 games. Yes, really.
as the winter Olympics begin....never forget about Surya Bonaly, a French figure skater who did a backflip and landed on one blade. she was so damn good at the trick, they made it illegal. she is the only Olympic figure skater in HISTORY to ever successfully complete the move. pic.twitter.com/r4HkwIkXrY— 🧚🏾♀️ (@peachyblackgorl) February 9, 2018
We can't even imagine doing a backflip in general, or a basic jump on skates, so it's no surprise that people were super impressed to see the stunning trick on the Olympic rink 20 years ago. Even more stunning is the fact that Surya didn't even place in the Olympics that year!
That's because the move has been banned in the Olympics since 1976, so Surya actually had points deducted for doing it. Why would she sacrifice her chances like that? Well, she won silver at the previous two Winter Games, but had an Achilles injury in 1998 which interfered with her jumps, including a planned triple lutz. She wasn't expected to place with her injury, especially against icons like Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan. To protect her foot (and as kind of a "f--k you" to the judges) Surya switched her triple lutz for an illegal backflip, landed on just one foot. It was totally badass and totally impressive, but it hurt her score even more.
We never see backflips at the Olympics, but it turns out that they're pretty common in ice shows and many athletes are capable of completing them, though usually on two feet instead of one. Surya herself retired from Olympic training after the 1998 Olympics and went on to perform in ice shows where she could backflip to her heart's content. What a queen!