Bonaly, Bobek finish with snubs, flubs French skater rips judges; American takes final fall


NAGANO, Japan -- And nominated in the best supporting act category at the Winter Olympics yesterday were Surya Bonaly, who flipped, and Nicole Bobek, who flopped.

These two veteran figure skaters put on an unusual display in the women's long program final.

Bonaly, the 24-year-old Frenchwoman who, for years, has been scorned by the judges, used her last Olympic program to make a statement.

She basically told the judges to take a hike by throwing in a very dramatic and very illegal back flip in the closing moments.

The maneuver shocked the audience. So did Bonaly's bow, as she turned her back to the nine-member judging panel.

"I just wanted to show the judges, who don't appreciate what I do, just what I can do," she said. "I just wanted to do something the crowd would like."

Bonaly, who is coming back from a severe Achilles' tendon injury, admitted, "I knew I wasn't in shape. I knew I wouldn't win."

Yet she was delighted to take on the judges. And they returned the favor, giving her technical marks as low as 4.8, to dump her from sixth to 11th.

Meanwhile, Bobek's disastrous Olympics concluded with a few spills. The 20-year-old from Chicago attempted eight triple jumps in two programs and landed one, finishing 17th in the 24-skater field.

So much for an American sweep of the medals.

"I didn't want to stomp off like a baby," Bobek said. "That's not really me. No matter how hard it is, you have to keep trying."

What was her major accomplishment in Nagano?

"Just being able to finish the long program," she said. "After the short, I wanted to quit and go home. People told me to go for it.

"After the first lutz, I doubled it, and I said, 'Go on, just go on.' And then, I fell on everything."

Bobek admitted it was a hard week living in the shadows of Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan.

"It was like I wasn't even here," she said. "Everything was Tara and Michelle, Tara and Michelle. It was a very hard week.

"At least I know I didn't give up."

And as she finished her final interview of the Olympics, Bobek said: "Write something nice, and no pictures of me falling down."

Pub Date: 2/21/98

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