Tonya Harding is back in the news, and if you’re Nancy Kerrigan or any other human being with a sense of decency, you probably have very mixed feeling about that.
For the sake of our younger readers, we’d like to take a moment to explain why Harding is … well, not quite the OJ of the figure skating world … more like Tom Brady, if instead of ordering his equipment managers to deflate game balls, he had them bludgeon the other teams quaterback.
Just weeks before the 1994 Winter Olympics, Harding’s biggest rival, Nancy Kerrigan, was clubbed on the knee in an attack that initially looked as though it would elimiate her from competition.
It was later revealed that Kerrigan’s attacker, Shane Stant, had been hired by her bodyguard, Shawk Eckhardt, and her ex-husband, Jeff Gilooly to carry out the assault.
Harding claimed the whole thing happened without her knowledge or approval, but she later pled guilty on several felony charges, striking a deal with prosecutors that allowed her to avoid jail time.
These days, Kerrigan is very much back in the news, thanks to I, Tonya the acclaimed, award-nominated film Margot Robbie portrays the disgraced ice queen with tremendous humor and compassion.
Biopics about scandalous figures are nothing new, but seldom have we seen an anti-hero treated with such admiration as Harding.
These days, Harding is being feted and celebrated across the media landscape.
She worked the red carpet alongside Margot Robbie at the 2018 Golden Globes, and she’s the subject of a popular new ABC News special that premiered this week.
Mostly, the doc just re-hashes the facts of the case and brings viewers up to date on what Harding has been up to in the decades since her name became synonymous with public disgrace.
But it occasionally sheds some new light on both the Kerrigan incident and Harding’s unmistakable involvement with it.
Including the admission–after decades of staunch denial–that she was aware her ex and bodyguard were planning something criminal.
Asked whether or not she had any role in planning the attack, Harding replied:
“No. I did, however, overhear them talking about stuff. ‘Well, maybe we should take somebody out so we can make sure [Harding] gets on the team.’
“And I remember telling them, I go, ‘What the hell are you talking about? I can skate.’”
If you’re thinking Harding could’ve done a hell of a lot more to make sure no one was “taken out” on her behalf, then you’re absolutely right.
Journalist Connie Chung, who previously interviewed Harding was stunned when told about the former skater’s admission:
“Unbelievable,” Chung remarked. “I can’t believe that she said that.”
Neither can we, Connie. Neither can we.
Memo to Margot Robbie: Maybe find a different date for the Oscars? Please?
Ray Liotta didn’t bring trot out Henry Hill on the red carpet, ya know.
(That’s a Goodfellas reference for all you under-30s out there.)