And Surya says. "In other sports they don't care how you run. You're faster, and that's it. It's not about your dress."
The Bonalys, rather than being idiots or ogres, seem like people who tasted public life and the subjectivity and politics of their sport. Then they recoiled, retreated, withdrew—into insolence. Into stubbornness To their hideaway in the Alps.
At times the Bonalys' tone is confessional. They admit mistakes but not regrets. Surya says, ' "Maybe it is better to have things this way. It makes us strong."
Of their public image, Suzanne says, ""When somebody is different, people like to talk about them. But we are just simple people. Very shy, very private. Some like to go to the reception, and some like to go into the forest. But if we have a choice, we prefer to walk in the forest. Skating is not often a nice place. But this is life."
"So we must adapt," Suzanne says.
"In the mind you stay the same," says Surya. ' "But you change the appearance. The outside."
Then, though you might prefer the forest, you and your mother attend the French federation's reception following the European championships, smiling self-consciously when the champagne corks stop popping and the waiters carrying hors d'oeuvres trays pause, and the crowd—recognizing that you've arrived—begins to clap and backpedal until a horseshoe of empty space is left for you, the champion, to glide into and fill.
Smiles hang on everyone's face. All the knives are sheathed. And it is no surprise—no surprise at all, really—that Didier Gailhaguet is among the first to step forward and take Surya Bonaly's hand and kiss her once on the cheek.