Nancy & Tonya: A Tale of Two Skaters

3 years ago

Last month's announcement that Ashley Wagner was named to the U.S. Figure Skating team was big news. But outside the rink, the controversy over the choice of Wagner over fellow skater Mirai Nagasu barely caused a ripple. This was nothing like the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan figure skating scandal 20 years ago  -  a scandal that ESPN named  as one of its most memorable sports moments of the 20th century.

Two decades later, the Harding/Kerrigan story still captivates:  a hardscrabble girl from a trailer park in Oregon brazenly tried to hobble her elegant arch rival  as both skaters battled for Olympic gold and all the endorsement dough that went with it.

The deep divide between the two teen skaters was reflected by their backstories as well as their performance styles: Harding powered through technical routines while Kerrigan gracefully danced on the ice.  

Kerrigan,  highly marketable and sought for endorsements,  was third in the '92 Olympics and had won the U.S. title in '93.  But she arrived at the '94 Olympic trials an obstacle in Harding's path. In a plan allegedly hatched with Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, a hired henchman jumped Kerrigan at practice and delivered a whack to her knee with an iron pipe that took her out of the competition.

It is not just Olympic historians who look back on the Harding/Kerrigan incident for its unprecedented impact  Read more
Smashing Stereotypes
on and off the playing field


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