French figure skater Surya Bonaly was on her best behavior yesterday in practice, but then, she had little choice after receiving a rare warning from the referee of the women's competition at the Winter Olympics.
Ben Wright of the United States told Bonaly's mother before the 45-minute practice session at the Olympic Ice Hall that Surya would not be permitted to do her back flip, a crowd-pleasing maneuver that she includes as an exclamation point to her exhibition programs, although it is illegal in competition.
Surya's mother, Suzanne Bonaly, was furious about the reprimand, complaining that she sensed vibrations "of hate, not love" toward her 18-year-old daughter. But Surya got the message and did her workout without the back flip.
Figure skating officials such as Wright have suspected for the past two years that Bonaly, a former gymnast, uses the back flip in practices to intimidate other skaters.
"This is nothing new," Wright said. "There's a history here."
It became an issue during Wednesday's practice, when, only a few hours before the women's original program began, Bonaly did a back flip and landed very close to the favorite, Japan's Midori Ito.
Forced to interrupt the final rehearsal of her program, Ito never regained her composure. She tumbled 40 seconds into her performance, dumping a 3 1/2 -revolution Axel for a 3-revolution Lutz, and eventually finished fourth in the original program Wednesday. Bonaly took third place.
The scoop that wasn't
Canadian forward Eric Lindros, who hasn't wavered in his refusal to join the Quebec Nordiques, denied rumors that he would sign with the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League.
"Our 1964 team was a speed skater and a cross country skier. The skier finished last. Then we had three cross country skiers in 1968, and they all finished last. That was enough. We took a break of 20 years." Danish team leader Christian Holmstroep explaining that Danes, unlike other Scandinavians, have a weak tradition in winter sports.