Episode 2 – The Art of French Figure Skating

Surya Bonali

What’s your favorite flip-off technique? The Double-Cross, arms Xed over your chest with middle fingers blazing? The Rocket Ship, blasting your forearm into outer space with the point of your middle finger leading the way? Or do you prefer to just fleck that digit onto your palm horizon with the force and finesse of an Adele ballad?


How about a one-footed backflip on ice skates? That was the “Fuck you” heard round the world at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games when French figure skater Surya Bonali broke rules and records in her last ice skating competition before turning pro.  Surya was skating with an injury and, as a result, made several errors in her routine. Knowing that she would not make the podium, she chose instead to sign off on her competitive career by pulling a stunt that was not only outlawed in figure skating competition: it had never been performed by any ice skater in the world, ever.

Art by Jason Stokes

If you know of Surya Bonali, you know about this legendary backflip. What you may not know is the struggle that Surya experienced in garnering recognition for her incredible athletic ability on the ice. Despite the technical complexity of her ice skating routines, she was often underscored, overlooked, and outright rejected by the figure skating community. Her Nagano backflip, then, was more than just an incredible athletic feat: it was a nice helping of Go Fuck Yourself. Learn more about Surya’s Olympic shade on Episode 2!


Blurry vidja clip of the famous Nagano backflip

And a link to the 2016 Radiolab episode, “On the Edge.”

Julia Child

Art by Jason Stokes

As a fellow tall goofball, I’ve got some real fuzzy feelings for Julia Child. Her unflappable and hilarious personality is only outmatched by her total lack of embarrassment when unforeseen disasters would happen on her cooking show, “The French Chef.” A smart, gregarious, and talented woman, Julia is especially inspiring to me because she’s one of those successful people who didn’t have it all figured out by 22. Or 30. Or even 35. She was a woman who tried new things and made mistakes and didn’t allow any of it to deter her or to keep her from becoming the best version of herself. She faced frequent criticism and was told more than once that her dreams wouldn’t pan out.

She is best known for her culinary contributions, but in truth her life was filled with all sorts of interesting adventures and tidbits. Did you know that she worked as a research assistant for the Office of Strategic Services during WWII? How about the fact that she pioneered a shark-busting technique which stopped dumb-ass sharks from blowing up nautical bombs used during the war? That’s right: Julia Child invented culinary warfare. Tall, full of gall, and always ready to shark-brawl, Julia Child is way more rad than you’ve ever considered. Learn more about her remarkable life in Episode 2!


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