Rarely does a comeback story quite as compelling as Tonya Harding’s come along. No one expected the former Olympian to bounce back after her highly publicized fall from grace in 1994. Just when you thought she was gone for good, she reemerged in 2017 thanks to a dramatized biopic of her life, I, Tonya. Now, the once-shunned figure skater says her current spin on Dancing with the Stars is giving her something she never expected: a second chance.
“This truly is a fresh start, and I’m having a wonderful time,” Harding told Us Weekly after surviving the dance competition’s second week of cuts. And although she is admittedly horrible at responding to all of her newfound supporters on social media, the retired skater reveals she’s happy that “for the most part, everybody has been just totally gracious and rooting for us.”
— Dancing with the Stars (@DancingABC) May 1, 2018
It’s perhaps that revelation that led Harding to soften her stance where her son Gordon is concerned. Originally, she vowed he wouldn’t attend any live shows or be present in the public sphere so as to avoid any scrutiny. However, both Gordon and Harding’s husband, Joseph Price, were on hand on Monday to watch Harding hoof it to the country hit “Redneck Woman.”
“We let my son come too because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I wanted him to see it,” she told reporters afterward.
Despite the disgraced figure skater’s surprisingly easy transition back into the spotlight, though, not everyone has forgiven and forgotten. When asked on Saturday about his competitor, fellow contestant and figure skater Adam Rippon didn’t mince words, telling USA Today, “I’ve interacted with Tonya very limitedly. I’m not avoiding her but I’m not not avoiding her.”
Rest assured, the outspoken skater didn’t leave his opinion up to interpretation. When asked directly what he thought about DWTS‘s “whitewashing” of Harding’s role in the attack on Nancy Kerrigan (in promos, ABC dubbed her a “figure skating legend”), Rippon responded politely but pointedly.
“It was nice to see that she had a moment,” he said of her first week’s performance, “but it’s also important to remember that skating wasn’t taken away from her — that she was banned because she was part of a bad thing. I don’t think that we should forget that.”
— Dancing with the Stars (@DancingABC) May 8, 2018
For the time being, though, it looks like Rippon will have to continue artfully avoiding Harding. On Monday, both contestants from the figure skating world advanced to the next level of competition.