Get it? Lilly-Hammer. Lillihammer Olympics. Thanks for the inspiration Tom Weir!
|Now first of all, don't be fooled by the title of this page. I am not here to take
sides. This is how the media portrayed our dynamic duo, not I. My figure skating
scrapbooks give equal time to each skater and I intend to do that here too. I like both
skaters for different reasons.
I have also decided to do this page because there is no information out on the net about these two women (unless you want to count some tasteless pictures I was unfortunate enough to come across). I think both of these women deserve a little time and a little recognition for surviving one of the most closely followed dramas in recent history.
I don't really care who was right and who was wrong. It is over and done with and one person's opinion isn't going to mean a whole lot in the greater scheme of things. In fact, in many ways I see both women as victims. Why? Well, let's try looking at the whole sordid affair from a few different angles.
Nancy Ann Kerrigan
Tonya Maxine Harding
|Birthdate: October 13, 1969
Birthplace: Woburn, Mass.
Parents: Brenda and Dan Kerrigan
Siblings: two older brothers, Mark and Michael
Spouse: Jerry Solomon, married Sept. 9, 1995
Children: Matthew, born Dec. 17, 1996
Education: 1987 graduate of Stoneham High School;
Business degree from Emmanuel College
Career Highlights: 1st- 1993 Us Nationals; 2nd-
1992 World Championships; 3rd- 1992 Olympics
|Birthdate: November 12, 1970
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
Parents: LaVona and Al Harding (divorced)
Siblings: half-brother Chris Davison (deceased)
Spouse: Michael Smith, Nov. 1995 (divorced)
Education: dropped out of high school during her
Sophomore year, later got her GED
Career Highlights: 4th- 1992 Olympics; 1st- 1991 Skate
America; 2nd- 1991 World Champ.; 1st- 1991 US Nationals
From the moment of that fateful blow, Nancy was deemed the victim by the media and most of the American public. The beautiful, hard working girl from Massachusetts with the devoted, loving family and a supportive circle of friends had been cruelly taken out of Nationals and possibly the Olympics. Tonya, on the other hand, was made out to be the evil, vengeful girl from the wrong side of the tracks who smoked too much and knew more about car repair than fashion. Classic tale of good versus evil right? Wrong.
The more I think about all this, the more I see how the media was able to twist everything out of proportion. Just by the words they chose and the pictures they used to present the two ladies, they were able to convince the American public that Tonya was someone to be hated just because she did things differently than the rest of the figure skating community and Nancy was to be put on a pedestal because of her beauty and lady-like demeanor. Some of the article titles used were, "Thin Ice Under Harding Weakens", "Harding Will Be Left Out In The Cold", and "No Lawsuit Can Save Harding Now", were used to further convince their readers that Tonya was getting exactly what she deserved. On the flip side, "Kerrigan Knocks Out Portland Pretender", "Kerrigan Wins Contract Gold", and "Tougher Than She Looks", bolstered Nancy's status among the readers.
Of course, not everyone thought Tonya was the evil person she had been made out to be. There were many articles asking the US Figure Skating Association to give Tonya her spot on the Olympic team. After all, she had not been accused of any crime (at this time) and should not be denied her Olympic dream just because a few of her friends were stupid enough to try and take out her competition. I tended to agree. This is still America where you are innocent until proven guilty.
What if their roles had been reversed? What if it had been Tonya holding her knee in pain? What if she were the one facing a possible career ending injury? Would she have received the same sympathy Nancy was showered with, or would her tainted past automatically make people assume she deserved it or was asking for it? Society can be cruel when it comes to someone's economic status. Even though the Kerrigan's are far from millionaires, she was better provided for in life than Tonya had been. I personally have no idea how much private ice time and lessons with the Scotvold's costs but I am sure it is more than practicing on a rink in a shopping mall with dozens of of skaters in the way. Nancy also had the advantage when it came to corporate contracts. Even before Nancy stepped on the ice in Lillihammer, she was guaranteed millions in movie, book and endorsement deals. A gold medal would have only increased the number of zeros. When all was said and done, Tonya was stripped of her 1994 U.S. National title and banned from competing in USFSA sanctioned competitions. Now everyone knows who Tonya Harding is but for all the wrong reasons.
(left) Nancy discusses her displeasure at not being able
to skate at the Nationals.
(center) Nancy and Tonya share the ice during practice in Lillihammer. (Nancy isn't pulling her hair. Just looks that way.)
(right) Tonya with her lawyer in a Portland courtroom.
I often wondered what 1992 Olympic Champion, Kristi Yamaguchi thought about all this? If she had still been competing in the eligible ranks, she would also have been competing against Tonya. Would she have been a target as well? Once it was learned that the attack was not the work of a crazed fan like the Monica Seles attack, the rest of the skating community relaxed a little bit. But figure skating had been changed forever. It was no longer just a sport of elegance, power, grace and athleticism. It was a sport where associates of a skater were willing to resort to violence. Hurting (or possibly killing) Nancy Kerrigan was just a means to an end. And the media ate it up. Suddenly a sport they had virtually ignored over the years unless it was an Olympic year became a huge ratings grabber. Ice shows were thrown together for the sake of viewership.
If I was Tonya, I would be very mad at Jeff Gillooly. If he master-minded the whole thing that means he didn't think Tonya could win just on the merits of her own abilities. He had no faith in her as a skater. I understand that he was only trying to help Tonya achieve her dream of Olympic gold, but in the long run he did her more harm than good.
When the whole media blitz ended, many fans were left a bit shell shocked by the whole ordeal. The papers continued to hound Tonya but Nancy was also found to be not quite so picture perfect herself. As a fan of the sport of figure skating, I only hope that both women have been able to put the past where it belongs and find the road to personal happiness. Both of these athletes deserve a little peace of mind.
Here are Nancy and Tonya both looking glamorous in gold and photos from their 1995 weddings.
Here are some links to articles and websites about Nancy and Tonya I have found on the web.
Nancy Kerrigan's American Pie Page
Nancy Kerrigan: A Fan Page
Washington Post Articles about Tonya and Nancy
Tonya Harding dot org
The Tonya Harding Website
Tonya Harding on the World Wide Web
Thank you for visiting. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions feel free to e-mail me.
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