It was a calculated attack, aimed at crippling Kerrigan and dashing her Olympics hopes ahead of the national championships. Jeff Gillooly was charged with hiring a hitman, while Harding, 23, was found guilty of conspiracy after the fact.
It made headlines around the world, and old wounds are again being ripped open as we near the release of I, Tonya, a new biopic starring Margot Robbie and Caitlin Carver, telling the sordid tale of a dangerous rivalry that would end up defining two careers. In , Harding became the first American woman to land the incredibly rare triple axel, earning her a perfect score and first place at the US Figure Skating Championships.
Kerrigan came in third. But while Harding may have had a slight skills edge, the public adored Kerrigan. Kerrigan was preparing to leave the Cobo Arena ice rink after training when she was viciously assaulted by a stranger, who targeted the kneecap on her landing leg.
She was forced to withdraw from the Championships the following day, but her fellow skaters agreed that she deserved one of the two spots on the Olympics team anyway. The next day, Harding won first place in the competition and a spot in the Olympics. It set the stage for an incredibly awkward Olympics moment: Kerrigan was forced to share the ice with Harding during practice, and both skaters were actively ignoring the other.
A particularly icy moment on the iceSource: News Limited In a pointed move, Kerrigan chose to wear the same white lace dress she had on when she was clubbed in the knee — and thanks to the infamous post-attack video, everyone knew it. Kerrigan, at the peak of her popularity due to the added weight of public sympathy, had the best skate of her career and took home the silver medal. On the other end of the scale, Harding totally choked.
She was granted a second attempt, but still finished in eighth place. During the process, they all insisted Harding had known about the attack before it happened, a claim she denies to this day. Harding in , after her skating career was over and her reputation destroyed. I know I have let you down, but I have also let myself down. Despite my mistakes and rough edges, I have done nothing to violate the standards of excellence, of sportsmanship, that are expected in an Olympic athlete.
She married her agent Jerry Solomon and had three kids. For Harding, it was a very different story. After becoming a persona non grata in professional skating, she unsuccessfully tried her hand at a number of things: YouTube Harding at the Winter Olympics.
According to People , in the years following the scandal she was arrested twice — once for DUI, and another for suspicion of domestic violence against her then-boyfriend. She reportedly also attempted suicide. Harding released biography The Tonya Tapes in claiming Gillooly had threatened her with rape and other physical violence if she ever spilled the truth about the plot to police.
More than two decades on, Gillooly who has since changed his name to Jeff Stone has maintained that Harding knew about the attack all along, despite her firm denials. We decided to do something really stupid there, and it ruined her. I have to go on living.