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Skating Tuesday, 29 January, 2002, 10:42 GMT
The Tonya Harding Affair
Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the 1994 Winter Olympics
Separate ways: Harding and Kerrigan at Lillehammer
BBC Sport Online's Frank Keogh profiles the lives of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan eight years after their infamous clash rocked the Winter Olympics.


The row

It was a story that brought the 1994 Games attention like no other.

On 6 January 1994, top US skater Nancy Kerrigan was assaulted at the US National Championships in Detroit.

Her attacker, Shane Stant, clubbed her right knee with a metal baton after a practice session.

Then it sensationally emerged the assault was a conspiracy hatched by Jeff Gillooly, the former husband of Kerrigan's ice dance rival Tonya Harding.

The US Figure Skating Association (USFSA) then stripped Harding of her title and banned her for life for hindering an inquiry into the incident.

That ruled her out of the Olympics and also meant she was unable to compete for the US in any International Skating Union sanctioned event - including the World Championships.

Nancy Kerrigan won silver at the 1994 Games
Silver dream: Kerrigan claimed second place

However, she won a legal battle allowing her to compete at the Winter Games.

Meanwhile, Kerrigan was unable to compete in the nationals, but she recovered to earn a place in the Olympic team at Lillehammer, Norway.

Because they were in the same team, the pair had to practice on the rink at the same time. The scene was distinctly frosty.

As the tension grew, the battle to be figure skating queen captured the world's imagination and drew one of the biggest ever audiences for a sporting event on American television.

Harding performed poorly at Lillehammer, sobbing to officials during one performance over a problem with her skate.

Kerrigan claimed silver, finishing second to Oksana Baiul of Ukraine by a 5-4 judges' vote.


Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding
Born: 12 November, 1970
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
Marital status: Divorced
Olympics: 4th, 1992
World Championship: 2nd, 1991
US Nationals: 1st, 1991

Harding, as one of only two women skaters to land a triple axel jump in competition, truly did have a natural talent for the sport.

Former World Champion Midori Ito of Japan is the only other woman to have pulled of that manoeuvre.

However, away from the ice rink Harding still has a habit of skating into trouble.

She was arrested in 2000 for allegedly attacking her boyfriend with a metal hubcap in a drunken rage.

Harding was charged with domestic violence and then released.

Police said the victim, Darren Silver, 28, suffered facial injuries and claimed Harding repeatedly punched him and kneed him in the groin.

Harding said she underwent anger management treatment and quit drinking after the incident.

Tearful Tonya Harding at the 1994 Winter Olympics
Crying game: Harding's Olympic dream dies

But it is clearly hard for her to shrug off her past, and she talks of a return to the ice, an autobiography and a Hollywood movie being made about her life.

Hers was a spectacular rise and fall, from growing up living in a trailer to being voted America's skater of the year, before her reputation was left in tatters.

Now living in Washington state with an English Mastiff for company, she was a contestant on the US version of the hit British TV quiz show The Weakest Link in October 2001.

Alongside competitors including 1970s teenage pop idol Leif Garrett in a 'newsmakers' special edition, Harding was voted out in the second round.


Nancy Kerrigan

While her rival Harding either refuses to, or cannot, escape her past, Kerrigan barely acknowledges the controversy which shook the Lillehammer Games.

Nancy Kerrigan
Born: 13 October, 1969
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
Marital status: Married to Jerry. Five-year-old son Matthew
Olympics: 3rd, 1992. 2nd, 1994.
World Championship: 2nd, 1992
US Nationals: 1st, 1993

On her website, which relaunched towards the end of 2001, there is no mention of the saga.

Among the first, second and thirds in her career results section, it says merely 'withdrew through injury' next to the ill-fated 1994 US Nationals.

Kerrigan projects a wholesome image, lending her name to the Nancy Kerrigan Foundation which raises awareness and supports the visually-impaired.

There are even fundraising Nancy Kerrigan pro-celebrity golf tournaments, featuring past and present LPGA stars.

Still living in Massachussetts, she remains a talented skater, claiming bronze at the 2000 Goodwill Games at Lake Placid.

Kerrigan has also trod the path of many top former skaters, appearing in shows such as Divas on Ice and Footloose on Ice.

In October 2001, she was the star of Halloween on Ice, which featured the musical number Witchy Woman.

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