Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Sports

NBC looks back at Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding

It might be the most famous moment in Winter Olympics history.

It's certainly the most infamous.

It was more shocking than the "Miracle on Ice'' at Lake Placid in 1980. More spectacular than Franz Klammer's harrowing run in the downhill at Innsbruck in 1976. More dramatic than anything involving Bonnie Blair, Shaun White or Peggy Fleming.

Hard to believe, but it has been 20 years since Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were teammates on the 1994 U.S. figure skating team, just weeks after Kerrigan was the victim of a bizarre attack planned by associates of Harding, including her husband at the time.

Tonight at 7, NBC is scheduled to air Nancy & Tonya, a one-hour documentary hosted by Mary Carillo.

In the documentary, broadcaster and former skater Scott Hamilton perfectly summed up what this story has meant.

"This may have changed skating a little bit,'' Hamilton said, "but to me it changed media forever."

Kerrigan has rarely spoken publicly about the events of early 1994, but both Kerrigan and Harding were interviewed for the special.

Kerrigan was attacked coming off the ice after practice on Jan. 6, 1994. A man named Shane Stant, allegedly hired by Harding's ex-husband and her bodyguard, struck Kerrigan on the leg with a lead pipe, forcing her to withdraw from the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and paving the way for Harding to win.

"I got off the ice and went through the curtain and then I was hit,'' Kerrigan said. "And then that just changed everything. Someone hit me with something. I just saw a black kind of pole or something coming down."

At the time, Kerrigan made no connection between Harding and the attack.

"I had people asking me, 'Do you think she had anything to do with it?' '' Kerrigan said. "And I, my reaction to that was, 'That's ridiculous.' To me, this had to have been some random act."

To this day, Harding denies having any role.

Kerrigan won the silver medal at the 1994 Olympics, while Harding did not medal.

These days, Harding, 43, is married with one child.

"I have a wonderful life,'' she said. "You can look at it half cup full, half cup empty — whichever way you want to look at it. But, you know what? You make mistakes. You move on. You learn from it."

Kerrigan, 44, is married with three children.

"Life has moved on,'' she said. "Right now I'm very busy being mom, and I have a lot of responsibility doing that. I'm putting three kids, eventually, out into the world."

Worst timing

Speaking of the Nancy Kerrigan attack, I was scheduled to interview Kerrigan for an Olympic preview story back in 1994. I was in Detroit for the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and was told the best way to get a few minutes with Kerrigan was to stop her coming off the ice on Jan. 6. But two days before the interview, I came down with pneumonia.

My boss at the time ordered me home.

"But what about the Kerrigan interview?'' I said.

"Don't worry about it,'' I was told. "Hey, what are you really going to miss?''

The day I was scheduled to interview Kerrigan as she came off the ice was the day she was attacked. Turns out I only missed, arguably, one of the biggest sports stories ever.

Three things that popped into my head

1. Bucs receiver Mike Williams is accused of doing $50,000 in property damage to a house he was renting. Think about it, $50,000. Seems like you would have to try to cause that much damage.

2. As Sports Illustrated points out, doesn't the skeleton on the new Bucs logo look like Skeletor?

3. Did anyone in sports have a worse week than Danny Granger? He was traded from the East-leading Pacers to the lottery-bound 76ers. That's like ordering a medium-rare steak and getting a burnt track shoe.

tom jones' two cents

tom jones' two cents

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