Fantastic article and she is a role model.
I've watched skating a long time and I agree with Surya about Debi Thomas being a role model. I remember Debi opening the sport of figure skating to a culture that normally did not watch the sport. Debi handled herself with such grace and dignity. Debi had to deal with the same body type questions and issues that were talked about with Surya. Both had body types that were not the normal of the figure skating community at that time. I'm sure it was similar to the existing body type discrimination with the ballet community with the body type of black dancers.
I remember Surya didn't wear figure skating tights and I wondered was it because she didn't care of them or because the skating manufacturers didn't make them in her flesh color. I remember when Debi wore tights they looked like "panty hose" she bought at a drugstore.
I remember when Peggy Fleming said Surya was "exotic" looking. I was thinking huh? She's black how is that "exotic" looking. But I'll give Peggy the benefit that maybe she was referring to her makeup or dress.