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Former Olympic Figure Skating Superstar Tonya Harding: Then and Now
She was the first woman in the world to ever execute two triple Axels. She was also banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association for life.
Tonya Harding took the ice skating world by storm in so many ways. The two-time Olympian was also the 1991 U.S. champion and 1991 World Championship silver medalist. One of her biggest accomplishments: being the first woman in the world to ever execute two triple Axels.
She also contributed to a black mark on the U.S. Figure Skating Association, the association that banned her for life in 1994. That year, just weeks before the 1994 Olympics, Harding’s rival was beaten in her knee with a crowbar. Harding was thought to have played a part in that attack but said she didn't know about it beforehand. Her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, allegedly hired the man who took the crowbar to the popular Kerrigan’s knee. She pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution in the attack, the New York Times reports. Harding got three years’ probation for the incident.
Harding, who had a rough-around-the-edges vibe about her and grew up from humble beginnings was demonized by the media. Even before the clubbing incident, Harding claimed that the judges were biased against her.
“There was one year I had like a bright pink outfit on,” Harding later recalled. “Really pretty. And one of the judges came up to me afterwards and said, you know what? 'If you ever wear anything like that again at a US Championship you will never do another one.”
Harding appears to be making a comeback of sorts.
"I, Tonya," a biopic of her life debuted in 2017. The film portrays Harding in a sympathetic light. It stars Margot Robbie, who betrays the disgraced athlete.
The film has received a glowing response and even standing ovations. She even walked the red carpet at the 2018.
Actress Allison Janney thanked Harding in her acceptance speech.
“Tell a story about class in America,” Janney said. “Tell a story about the disenfranchised. Tell a story about a woman who was not embraced for her individuality. Tell a story about truth and the perception of truth in the media.”
Harding was reportedly on the brink of tears.
Not everyone has empathy for Harding. Olympic figure skater Johnny Weir said that she should not be forgiven for what she did.
"She did a horrible, horrible thing," Weir told TMZ. "She's a pariah in our sport and she shouldn't be forgiven for basically, possibly having the opportunity of ruining somebody's life."
Harding, now 47, is now “Tonya Price” after getting married to Joe Price in 2010. A New York Times profile on her states that she is a good influence on teen skaters. The writer of that piece stated, “For as many people who are mean or crude when they realize who she is, there are just as many who love her. We had met earlier in the day at an ice rink in Vancouver that shares a building with a megachurch. When she entered, the 10 or so teenage wonders who had been jumping and spinning during serious-skater-only hours rushed off the ice to envelop her with hugs.” One of the girls’ mothers told the New York Times journalist that Harding is a good influence on the teens.
[Photo: Getty Images]