Figure skater Nancy Carrigan was sitting on the floor in the hallway, sobbing uncontrollably. I was just beaten by a stranger. All blows with a telescopic baton fell on her legs: the girl received injuries incompatible with full-fledged training. I had to forget the World Championships, the decisive qualifying tournament for the Olympics in Lillehammer. The attack was “ordered” by her main rival, Tonya Harding.
Triple axle conquered
Tonya did not see figure skating as just a sport or a job. It has become a matter of life for him. For the sake of results, Carrigan resorted to all means. Success on the runway gave him a chance to become famous, rich and independent. The latter especially bothered him – relations with relatives were very difficult.
“My mom is a very aggressive person. She drank all day and left her hands free. One time she forced me off the track and beat me with a comb in front of everyone,” Harding said.
Tonya had incredible success by winning the US Championship in 1991 and taking a silver medal at the World Championships. Thanks to one element – the triple axle, it was able to rise to such heights. Harding became the first woman to do so in the short programme. And a little later – in a series of jumps.
But the personal life of the skater did not develop. Already at the age of 22, Harding divorced Jeff Gillooly. But they did not completely break off relations. Over time, it is this union that will cause one of the main scandals in the history of figure skating.
I wanted to injure an opponent
After 1991, Tonya was unable to run the trio Axel cleanly in the competition. The girl understood that her chances of participating in the Olympics were rapidly decreasing. She was ready to join the national team at any cost. Before the 1994 US Championship, Harding decided to remove the reigning winner Carrigan from the game.
Tonya shared the plan with Jeff and his bodyguard. They quickly found an artist – Shane Stunt became him. The bandit didn’t even know what Nancy looked like. She asked the manager at the ice palace which of the athletes training was the current champion. Then he followed the victim and attacked him in a deserted corridor.
Without her main rival, Tonya won the tournament and took her place in the Olympic team. The plan seemed to be working perfectly. However, the police launched a criminal investigation into the attack and went to Harding’s ex-husband.
The detainee blamed Tonya and said his organization was behind the attack on Nancy. As a result of the attacker’s investigation, Harding’s ex-wife and bodyguard were sent to prison. The skater was found guilty of collaborating with the participants. He was sentenced to three years probation, community service, and a $160,000 fine.
Nothing stood in the way of the Olympics except one “but”. The history of the attack on Nancy and the suspicions made Harding the most famous participant in the contest. There was a picture of a skater on the front pages of the newspapers.
The presence of Carrigan in the US team increased the severity of the situation. Despite skipping the championship, he was included in the team without being selected for the Olympics. Photographers rushed to the ice arena in Lillehammer. Everyone wanted to capture all those involved in the conflict in one frame.
At Olympic Harding it was not possible to bypass the opponent. Carrigan won the silver, finishing second after Oksana Baiul. Tonya finished eighth.
Harding broke the ties of his skates before stepping on the ice. After he made a mistake on his first jump, he asked the judges to give him time to find a new shoelace. Difficulty played a role, preventing the girl from competing for the prize. Did the shoelace accidentally burst at such an inconvenient moment? No one revealed the truth.
However, the US Figure Skating Association has launched an investigation into the incident involving Carrigan’s beating. The organization concluded that Harding was fully aware of the impending attack. The figure skater was immediately stripped of the U.S. Championships gold medal and banned from all competitions for life. Tonya became persona non grata in the figure skating world and her career was over.
For many years, Harding stated in an interview that he knew nothing about the attack on Carrigan. Tonya exposed herself as an innocent victim that they decided to make amends. However, evidence suggested otherwise.
15 years later, he changed his statement by singing his autobiography. The book said that her ex-husband wanted some of the prize money from her. In order for Tonya to gain more, she decided to attack an opponent. When Harding found out, he wanted to call the FBI. Jeff prevented her from doing so by threatening her with a gun and raping her. Few believed this version.
“Nancy doesn’t deserve my attention”
Tonya could no longer do what she loved, but decided to stay in sports. Harding unexpectedly chose boxing, and after a while it entered the category of professionals. In total, the former skater had six fights and won three victories. One of his fights even took place on the bottom card of the confrontation between Mike Tyson and Clifford Etienne.
But my asthma did not allow him to stay in boxing. Tonya moved to secular life. The girl began to participate in various talk shows, give interviews, and then develop her social networks.
Over time, popularity began to wane. But Tonya was saved by Hollywood. A movie based on Harding’s story was released in 2017.
The main role in the movie “Tonya vs. Everyone” was played by Margot Robbie, who during the filming actively consulted with the prototype of the heroine. True, the movie distorted the truth. According to the plot of the picture, Tonya was unaware of the attack and did not plan to eliminate her competitor before the Olympics.
Needless to say, Nancy Carrigan wasn’t enthusiastic about the movie they were trying to launder her rival’s reputation? The figure skater called the band craze and reminded Tonya that she had never apologized to him in all these years.
“I knew this story would be with me for the rest of my life. Life became hell after the accusations. They threw rats in my mailbox, passersby mocked me. I think I proved my innocence. That’s why I apologized. Many times Nancy is no longer worthy of my attention,” replied Tonya. .
After the release of the film, Harding again began to be invited to various talk shows. Now Tonya feels like a star. True, he tries not to answer questions about the past and in every possible way avoids the topic of relations with Nancy. But the silence will not make figure skating enthusiasts forget Harding’s nickname, “Ice Bitch.”
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