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THE OLYMPICS — As we all watch the Winter Games this month, it can be fun to reminisce about some of our favorite Olympic moments from the past.
For me, the first Olympic Games I remember watching were in 1998. Six-year-old me was only interested in watching figure skating (though, of course, that hasn’t really changed in 20 years). Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan were my heroes. I was enamored by the sport’s beauty and the athletes’ gracefulness.
But despite having vague memories of watching the Olympics at that time, I don’t remember watching one of the very best moments from the 1998 Winter Games — a moment that has suddenly gone viral this week as athletes like Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon have reminded everyone just how cool figure skating is.
The moment came during French skater Surya Bonaly’s free skate routine. It was Bonaly’s third Olympics and she was recovering from an Achilles injury, which unfortunately caused her to mess up some of her jumps. But then, after a few mistakes, Bonaly went for a jump that blew everyone away: A backflip. But not just any backflip. No, Bonaly managed to land the backflip on one blade, something almost impossibly difficult.
If you’re wondering why you never see this extremely cool-looking move anymore, it’s because it’s banned. But it was actually banned when Bonaly performed it in the Olympics, though accounts vary on the reason why. What is clear is that Bonaly knew it was banned and did it anyway.
The move is super dangerous, but it was also sort of Bonaly’s signature move, and she knew she could land it. She didn’t win any medals that year, but she did do something pretty daring. And now, 20 years later, the internet loves her for it.
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