More Black History is being made at the 2010 Winter Olympics. When France sends ice skating pair Yannick Bonheur and Vanessa James to compete it will be the first time in history that a black pair has graced the ice. The crazy part is that while they’re doing their part to change things, a Russian ice dancing pair is experiencing backlash over the lack of racial sensitivity they displayed in a recent competition. Pop the hood to find out what we mean.
Vanessa James, who was born in Canada and raised in England, began skating with Yannick Bonheur in December 2007 after answering an ad he posted looking for a partner. The pair moved to Indianapolis in the United States in August 2009 to train with Russian coach Sergei Zaitsev and last December they paved their way to Vancouver by winning the French nationals. That win also helped James receive French citizenship.
“It’s destiny and I’m very happy about it,” said 27-year-old Bonheur.”There’s the grace and beauty of Vanessa and then my athleticism. And the fact that we’re both black brings a pleasing visual harmony.”
“This is just the beginning. We want to make a name for ourselves so that they’ll remember us for next season,” he said.
“It’s often been remarked that we look different on the ice. So we want to highlight that,” said Bonheur. “We want to climb the ladder to show that black skaters can stand on the podium.”
Bonheur and James finished 7th at Europeans. James previously competed for Britain as a single’s skater. She was the 2006 British national champion and 2007 silver medallist.
Meanwhile there is another team on the ice who have already ruffled a few feathers going into the games. Russian ice dancing champions Oksama Domnina and Maksim Shabalin pissed off more than a few folks in January when they donned brown skin suits, war paint, and eucalyptus leaves to perform an “Aboriginal Song”.
The pair says they meant no harm, they just didn’t want to do another Slavic dance. Fortunately they plan to leave the “skin suits” alone for the Olympics.
SMH at the Russians. Congratulations to Yannick and Vanessa!!!