Just because it’s the Winter Olympics, doesn’t mean that islandistas aren’t still on the scene!
Even though we’re from the tropics, we still know how to work the ice and Bermudan ice skater Vanessa James did just that on Monday, “electrifying” the crowd at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum along with her figure-skating partner, Yannick Bonheur as they competed for France.
James, who also has Barbadian roots, took a circuitous route to the Winter Olympics, where she and Bonheur made history as the first black pairs figure-skaters.
She had originally competed for Britain, as she had British citizenship through her Bermudian father, Kevin James and was that country’s first black skating champion in 2005. However, after looking for a suitable pairs partner for years, she linked up with Bonheur and two years ago, switched to represent France.
As it so happens, Bonheur also has island roots, as his parents are originally from Martinique.
While they didn’t win, the two endeared themselves to the audience with a daring, acrobatic routine and placed 14th.
Of their history-making turn on the ice, Bonheur said that they didn’t set out to make history.
“I didn’t search for a black girl in the first place, just a girl who wanted to try and work for it.”
They aren’t the first black skaters on the ice – Debi Thomas won a bronze medal back at the 88 Calgary Winter Olympics – or even at these games. German Robin Szolkowy (Tanzanian father, German mother) won bronze in the same contest with partner Aliona Savchenko.
But they are the first all-black duo in a sport … shoot an Olympiad, that is still very light and the fact that there is now a black pair – and an island pair! in ice-skating is interesting to note.