Even if you’re not a fan of Olympic figure skating, you probably remember the scandal that began 20 years ago when Nancy Kerrigan was attacked as she left the ice after practice in Detroit. It was January 6, 1994 — the day before the US Figure Skating Championships. The assault was later traced back to men with a connection to another skater: Portlander Tonya Harding. Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was involved with a plot to take Kerrigan out of the competition. Though she was eventually banned for life from figure skating for playing a role in the attack, Tonya Harding still insists she didn’t know about the plot against Kerrigan before it was carried out.
In the latest issue of The Believer magazine, Portland-based writer Sarah Marshall explores the scandal, the public’s reaction, and the media narratives that followed these two women all the way to the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer.
What do you remember about this scandal? What do you think we have to learn from it 20 years later?