Tonya Harding

Tonya Harding

Infobox Figure skater
title= Tonya Harding

country= USA
dateofbirth= birth date and age|1970|11|12
residence= Clark County, Washington, United States
height= 154.9 cm (5'1")
coach= Diane Rawlinson
skating club=
retired =

Tonya Maxine Harding (born November 12, 1970) is an American figure skating champion. In 1991 she won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and placed second in the World Championships. She was the second woman, and the first American woman, to complete a triple axel jump in competition.

She became notorious after her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, and his co-conspirators Shawn Eckhardt] and Shane Stant, attacked competitor Nancy Kerrigan at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Early life

Harding was born in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of LaVona and Al Harding. She had a half-brother named Chris Davison (deceased). Harding claims that it was during this time that her mother physically abused her, a claim denied by her mother. [ [ Tonya Harding reveals her side of roller-coaster life Today Show May 15, 2008] ] Harding began skating at an early age. She landed her first triple lutz at age 12. Her mother made many of her skating costumes.

She stopped attending high school during her sophomore year, and later earned a GED; she had started receiving assignments to international skating competitions while she was still in Jr. High School.

She married Jeff Gillooly in 1990, when she was 19 years old. Their tumultuous marriage ended in divorce in 1993, when she was 22 years old. [ Tonya Harding biography at] , accessed July 16, 2006.]

kating career

Harding began to work her way up the competitive skating ladder in the mid-1980s. She placed 6th at the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, 5th in 1987 and 1988, and 3rd in 1989. She was considered a strong contender at the 1990 U.S. Figure Skating Championships after having won Skate America 1989, but she had a poor free skate as a result of suffering from the flu and asthma, and dropped from 2nd place after the original program to finish 7th overall. Harding was a powerful jumper and spinner, but performed the compulsory figures less well.

1991 was Harding's breakthrough year. She landed her first triple axel in competition at the U.S. Championships, winning the title with the event's first 6.0 ever given to a female single skater for technical merit. She competed well at the World Championships, but finished second to Kristi Yamaguchi. She again completed the triple axel during her long program at the World Championships, becoming the first American woman to do so. In her career, Harding landed four triple axels in competition, all of them in 1991 where she completed every one she tried: one at the U.S. Championships, one at the World Championships, and two at the fall 1991 Skate America competition. At the latter competition she recorded three more firsts:
#the first woman ever to do a triple axel in the short program,
#the first woman to do two triple axels in a single competition, and
#the first ever to do a triple axel combination (with double toe loop). After this year, she never successfully performed the triple axel in competition again, and her career began falling precipitously.

In 1992, Harding placed 3rd at the U.S. Championships after twisting her ankle in practice. She finished 4th at the 1992 Winter Olympics. At the 1992 World Championships, she placed only 6th in a weak field. The following season, Harding skated poorly at the 1993 U.S. Championships and failed to qualify for the World Championship team.

eries of incidents

The latter part of Harding's competitive career was marked by a series of accidents, incidents, and excuses, causing television commentators to observe that no competition was complete without Tonya having a crisis. Some included:

* "Skating" magazine reported that at Skate America in 1991, Harding was stranded in heavy traffic just before her event was scheduled to begin, and had to hitch a ride with people who drove her backwards through traffic to the arena.
* In the short program at the 1993 U.S. Championships, Harding had to ask permission from the referee to restart her program after the back of her dress came unhooked as she began to skate.
* At 1993 Skate America, Harding stopped midway through her free skate and complained to the referee that her skate blade had become loose. She was allowed to resume her program after her blades were checked by a skate technician.
* In late 1993, Harding was scheduled to compete in a regional qualifying competition for the U.S. Championships. However, before the event, its organizers received an anonymous assassination threat against Harding, which led the United States Figure Skating Association (USFSA) to tell her to stay away, excluding her from having to qualify.
* The medal ceremony at the 1994 U.S. Championships had to be delayed because Harding could not be found backstage after the competition.
* At the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre at 1994 Winter Olympics, Harding almost failed to appear on the ice when her name was called for the free skating because she was scrambling to replace a broken shoelace. The replacement shoelace turned out to be too short, and after missing the opening jump in her program she again had to ask the referee for permission to find a new lace.

In addition to the incidents listed above, following her 1991 success, she went through a series of coaching changes (at one point she was even attempting to coach herself), and she arrived so late for the competition at the 1992 Olympic Games that her performance was affected by jet lag. In spite of the publicity she received about being handicapped by asthma, she also periodically smoked.

The Kerrigan attack

Harding became notorious for allegedly conspiring to harm competitor Nancy Kerrigan in an attack, which occurred on January 6, 1994 at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt hired Shane Stant to strike Kerrigan on the knee. Harding won that event, while Kerrigan's injury forced her withdrawal. After Harding admitted to helping to cover up the attack, the USFSA and United States Olympic Committee initiated proceedings to remove her from the 1994 Olympic team, but Harding retained her place after threatening legal action. She finished eighth, while Kerrigan, who recovered from her injuries, finished second.

On February 1, 1994, Harding's ex-husband accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against Harding. Harding avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence by pleading guilty on March 16 to hindering the investigation of the attack. She received three years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $160,000 fine. She maintained her innocence of and disgust at the attack, and got a tattoo of an angel on her back, allegedly as a symbol of her innocence. In her 2008 autobiography "The Tonya Tapes", Harding said that she wanted to call the F.B.I. to reveal what she knew, but did not when allegedly Gillooly threatened her with death following a gunpoint gang rape by Gillooly and two other men she did not know. Gillooly (who has since changed his name) called the allegations "utterly ridiculous". [ [ Tonya Harding reveals her side of roller-coaster life The Today Show May 15, 2008] ]

On June 30, 1994 after conducting its own investigation of the attack, the USFSA stripped Harding of her 1994 title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or coach. The USFSA concluded that Harding knew about the attack before it happened and displayed "a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior".

As part of her plea deal, Harding had already resigned from the USFSA and given up her spot on the team slated to take part in that year's world championships. [ A timeline of events in the scandal, Washington Post] , accessed July 16, 2006.] Although the USFSA has no control over professional skating events, Harding was also "persona non grata" on the pro circuit because few skaters and promoters would work with her. Consequently, Harding did not herself benefit from the pro skating boom that ensued in the aftermath of the scandal.cite book
authorlink=Scott Hamilton (figure skater)
coauthors=Lorenzo Benet
title=Landing It: My life on and off the ice
publisher=Kensington Books
location=New York

The attack on Kerrigan and the news of Harding's alleged involvement led to a media frenzy of saturation news coverage. Harding appeared on the cover of both "Time" and "Newsweek" magazines in January, 1994. Reporters and TV news crews attended Harding's practices in Portland and camped out in front of Kerrigan's home. CBS assigned Connie Chung to follow Harding's every move in Lillehammer. Counting 400 members of the press jammed into the practice rink in Norway, Scott Hamilton complained that "the world press was turning the Olympics into just another sensational tabloid event."

Later celebrity

Tonya Harding entered the world of the nude Internet celebrity with the appearance of a pornographic "Wedding Video" that shows her having sex with her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. Gillooly (who, not long after the scandal, began to fade from prominence and changed his name to "Jeff Stone") sold the tape to a tabloid show after having been implicated as a conspirator in the Kerrigan attack. Stills from the tape were published by "Penthouse" in September 1994, and the tape itself [ Tonya and Jeff's Wedding Night, IMDB] , accessed July 16, 2006.] was released at about the same time. Harding tried to distance herself from it.

Harding appeared on a USA Pro Wrestling show in 1994 as the manager for wrestler Art Barr.Fact|date=July 2007

In late 1996, Harding used mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to help revive an 81-year-old woman, Alice Olson, who collapsed at a bar in Portland, Oregon while playing video poker.cite news | title = Harding Helps to Save Woman's Life | publisher = New York Times (from AP) | url = | accessdate = 2007-01-07

Harding has had a number of run-ins with the law since her involvement with the Kerrigan attack. Some of the incidents which have been reported in the press cite news | title = The Tonya Harding - Nancy Kerrigan saga: A Timeline | date = May 8, 2006 | publisher = The Oregonian | url = ] include the following:
* On May 25, 1995, it was reported that Harding claimed she was being stalked by someone driving a white Lincoln Town Car, resulting in a car chase involving Harding, her ex-husband Gillooly, and the police. [cite web | title = Harding's Latest Plot Twist Is a Car Chase | first = Robert | last = Fachet | publisher = The Washington Post | date = May 25, 1995 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-20]
* On February 12, 1997, Harding claimed that she was abducted at knife-point outside her home by a bushy-haired man who forced her to drive to a rural area, where she rammed her truck into a tree and escaped by running into the woods. Police found no evidence of an abduction. This incident happened on the opening weekend of the 1997 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. [ [ Harding escapes alleged abduction] , accessed Aug 11, 2006]
* On October 16, 1997, Harding reported that her truck had been stolen from a shopping mall parking lot. [cite web | title = People, Places & Things in the News | date = October 17, 1997 | publisher = South Coast Today | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-20]
* On January 6, 2000, six years to the day after the attack on Kerrigan, Harding was in the news again after she lost control of her truck on an icy road and landed in a ditch. Her then boyfriend, Darren Silver, allegedly made threats against a press photographer. [ [ News report quoted on] , accessed Aug 11, 2006]
* On February 24, 2000, Harding was ordered by a Clark County judge to stay away from alcohol and her former boyfriend, Darren Silver, after being booked on fourth-degree Domestic Violence assault charges for punching Silver and throwing a hubcap at him at their Camas, Washington residence. [cite web | title = This Just In | publisher = Kitsap Sun | date = February 24, 2000 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-20] Harding was also sentenced to 3 days in jail and 10 days of community service on a work crew. [cite news | first = Joe | last = Rose | title = Cleanup duty is next for Harding | publisher = The Oregonian |date = May 22, 2000 | url=] Shortly before this, Harding had been attempting to make a comeback as a professional skater, but the hubcap incident effectively put an end to her return to skating. [cite web | first = Greg | last = Couch | title = Harding's new image takes a beating | publisher = Chicago Sun-Times | date = February 27, 2000 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-20]
* In 2002, Harding was evicted from her rental home.
* On April 20, 2002, Harding was involved in another accident with her truck. She was cited for drunk driving and a violation of her probation agreement from her 2000 conviction. [ [ Harding sentenced to 10 days in jail] , accessed Aug 11, 2006]
* On October 23, 2005, Harding, apparently again under the influence of alcohol, was involved in a fight at her home in Vancouver, Washington with Christopher Nolan, a man she described as her boyfriend. Initially, she made a 911 call claiming to have been assaulted in her home by two masked men. For his part, Nolan claimed that Harding attacked him after having too much to drink. In the end, Nolan was charged with assault and ordered to stay away from Harding and to avoid alcohol. [ [ Man Arrested After Tonya Harding Run-In] , accessed Aug 11, 2006]
* On March 11 2007, the Clark County sheriff's office responded to two calls related to Harding. [cite web | first = Noelle | last = Crombie | title = Former skater Tonya Harding "tweaking out," phones police | publisher = Seattle Times | date = March 15, 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-08-20] The first call was from Harding herself, at 5am. She told the officer who responded that she had observed five armed intruders trying to steal her vehicle, and hide rifles on her property. The responding officer's report described her as "agitated", her story as "very implausible", and recorded her frustration that others couldn't see the people she saw. He could not find any evidence to back up Harding's claims. The second call, four hours later, at 9am, was from a friend who had agreed to let Harding visit. Harding's host told police that although Harding wasn't violent, she was "tweaking out, seeing animals," and she was worried about her children's safety. She requested police return Harding to her home. Police reported that the officer who returned her home inspected her trailer home, to reassure her, and advised her to seek medical help. Linda Lewis, Harding’s longtime agent, attributed her behavior to a bad interaction of legitimate prescription drugs.

Boxing career

In 2002, Tonya Harding boxed on the Fox TV network "Celebrity Boxing" event against Paula Jones, winning the fight. On February 22, 2003, she made her official women's professional boxing debut, losing a four round decision in the undercard of the Mike Tyson-Clifford Etienne bout, amid rumors that she was having financial difficulties and needed to box to earn money.

Harding won her third pro bout against Alejandra Lopez at the Creek Nations Gaming Center.

On March 23, 2004, it was reported that Harding cancelled a planned boxing match against Tracy Carlton in Oakland, California because of an alleged death threat against her.

On June 24 2004, after reportedly not having boxed for over a year, Harding was beaten in a match in Edmonton, Alberta by boxer Amy Johnson. Fans reportedly booed Harding as she entered the ring, and cheered wildly for Johnson as she won in the third round. Harding later protested the outcome.

Harding's boxing career was quite short, a brevity she attributes to asthma. [cite news
title=Ready for 'Life With Tonya'?
work=Portland Tribune
date=January 5, 2007
] Her overall record was 3-3-0. [ Tonya Harding's professional boxing record,] , accessed January 13, 2007.]

Boxing record

Popular culture references

*In an episode of the television program "Seinfeld" called "The Understudy", Jerry Seinfeld is dating the understudy of stage performer Bette Midler named Gennice, who is played by Adelaide Miller. Seinfeld's friend George accidentally injures Midler in a softball game and the understudy has to take over Midler's part in the musical "Rochelle Rochelle". Enraged fans then call Seinfeld "Gillooly", in addition to George and Gennice getting into mishaps and being shunned for the incident. When Gennice takes the stage, she has a problem with the laces on her boot and, in an act reminiscent of Harding's bootlace incident, tearfully asks that she be allowed to start over.Fact|date=January 2008

* The incident with Kerrigan was also spoofed in an episode of "The Simpsons" ("Team Homer"). Homer enters a team bowling tournament with Apu, Moe, and eventually Mr. Burns. Due to the fact that Mr. Burns is a horrible player, just before the championship game Moe, in disguise as a "masked stranger", hits him in the leg with a crowbar with the intention to disqualify Burns from the team by injury. Mr. Burns was in fact already suffering from arthritis in his knee, and the attack ended up curing him instead. She also appears in another episode in a spaceship which is heading to the sun ("Treehouse of Horror X").

* Elizabeth Searle's novella, "Celebrities In Disgrace", centers on the Harding-Kerrigan affair. The novel was adapted by Searle and composer Abigail Al-Doory to "," a chamber opera produced in May of 2006 by Tufts University and performed at the American Repertory Theatre's Zero Arrow Theatre in Cambridge, Massachusetts under the direction of Meron Langsner. A documentary on the making of the opera and the media frenzy it caused is currently in post-production at [ Charles River Media Group] . The film, titled "A Good Whack," is directed by Don Schechter. As of 2005, the novel on which the opera was based is also being adapted into a short film. Searle later created Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera, which premiered on the West Coast in 2008 and which was attended by Harding herself.

* Harding is featured in "Tonya Twirls" a song by Loudon Wainwright III, a US songwriter and Folk Musician. [ Tonya Twirls] accessed July 21, 2007.] The song draws humour from Harding's lifestyle but ultimately resolves as a lament for lost innocence. The song was previewed live a few years before it was recorded and issued on "Social Studies" (1999). A live recording was later issued on "So Damn Happy" (2003).

*In the 1994 double-featured movie "Attack of the 5'2" Women", Julie Brown plays the role of Tonya Hardly (Tonya Harding) before going on to play the role of Lenora Babbitt (Lorena Bobbitt). [ [ Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 Women (1994) (TV) ] ]

* On FOX's "In Living Color", there were two spoofs on Tonya Harding. One episode featured Tonya advertising the club to attack people with; in one scene she hits a brunette female skater (Nancy Kerrigan) in the leg. While the Nancy character is on the floor saying "Why? Why?," Tonya tells her "shut up bitch" and proceeds to attack others in the commercial. Another episode featured a basketball player attempting to make the Guiness Book of World Records with the most consecutive shots. However, a Tonya Harding lookalike enters the basketball court on roller skates and immediately clubs the basketball player in the leg, ending his chances. Then she attacks the reporter and the cameraman in the process before the scene cuts to the opening theme.

* The Kerrigan-Harding feud is spoofed in both the lyrics and the video of Weird Al Yankovic's "Headline News," itself a parody of Crash Test Dummies' "Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm". "Once there was this girl who swore that one day she would be a figure skating champion," sings Yankovic, "But when she finally made it she saw some other girl who was better,/ So then she hired some guy to club her in the kneecap." In the video, Kerrigan and Harding are brawling on the ice-rink floor, while the scoring judges rate their blows.

* In the contest for the Democratic presidential nominee between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a Democratic Party official stated that Clinton may have to exercise the "Tonya Harding Option" to secure the nomination. [ [, March 26, 2008] ]

* Jim Rome often plays sound bites of the Tonya Harding 911 calls on his syndicated sports radio show The Jim Rome Show.

* At WCW's Clash of the Champions 28 on August 24, 1994, Hulk Hogan was attacked by a masked man wielding a lead pipe, and subsequently fell to the ground clutching his knee, screaming "Why? Why?" just as Kerrigan did after her attack. [ [ Review of WCW's Clash of the Champions 28] ]

Figure skating competitive highlights

Sources: [ Olympic results - finishers, from] , accessed August 30, 2006.] [,11040,4844-148236-165452-56215-0-file,00.pdf Worlds results, from] , accessed August 30, 2006.] [ WORLD FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS 1990-1999 results] , accessed August 31, 2006.]



External links

* [] Archive of Tonya Harding files

* [] Harding, Kerrigan are linked forever by skating incident
* [] Interview with Harvey Schiller, former Exec. Dir. US Olympic Committee (talks about Harding)


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