Kerrigan interviewed in Turin, Italy, February 22, 2006
|Full name||Nancy Ann Kerrigan|
|Country represented||United States|
October 13, 1969 |
Stoneham, Massachusetts, United States
|Height||1.62 m (5 ft 4 in)|
|Former coach||Evy Scotvold
Kerrigan was the 1992 Olympic Bronze medalist, the 1993 US National Champion, the 1994 Olympic Silver medalist, and a two-time world medalist. In 1994, Kerrigan was attacked with a police baton by an assailant hired by the ex-husband of her rival Tonya Harding.
Early life and skating career
Kerrigan was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts, the youngest child and only daughter of welder Daniel Kerrigan and homemaker Brenda Kerrigan. Her ancestry includes English, Irish and German. She has stated: "There's very little Irish in me, just my name" . While her brothers Michael and Mark played hockey, she took up figure skating at age six. She did not start private lessons until age eight and won her first competition, the Boston Open, at age nine.
The Kerrigan family was of modest means. Kerrigan's father sometimes worked three jobs to fund her skating career; he also drove the ice resurfacer at the local rink in exchange for Nancy's lessons. Kerrigan was coached by Theresa Martin until she was 16, then began working with Evy and Mary Scotvold. after a brief period with Denise Morrissey. The Scotvolds remained her coaches through the rest of her competitive career.
Kerrigan began to reach prominence at the national level when she placed fourth at the junior level at the 1987 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She made an early impression as a strong jumper but was comparatively weak in compulsory figures. Kerrigan made her senior debut the following season, moving up the national rankings each year: 12th in 1988, fifth in 1989, and fourth in 1990. She continued to be held back by compulsory figures until they were eliminated from competitions after the 1990 season.
Kerrigan's rise at the national level continued when she placed 3rd at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. She qualified for the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships, where she won the bronze medal. Her achievement was considered especially astonishing in that it was part of the first-ever sweep of the women's podium by a single country at the World Championships, as her team mates Kristi Yamaguchi and Tonya Harding won gold and silver, respectively.
In the 1992 season, Kerrigan again improved on her placement at the previous year's national championships by finishing second. She won a bronze medal (Yamaguchi took the gold) in the 1992 Winter Olympics and earned the silver medal at the 1992 World Championships.
The following season—with Yamaguchi retired from eligible competition—Kerrigan became United States champion, even though her performance was flawed. She admitted that she would have to improve her skating in time for the World Championships. She won the short program at the World Championships in Prague, but had a disastrous free skate that resulted in her tumbling to fifth in the standings. This was followed by an even worse performance at a televised pro-am event, where Kerrigan fell three times, botched the landing of another jump, and appeared dazed and depressed.
Before and after the 1992 Olympics, she had many corporate sponsorship contracts (with companies such as Campbell's Soup, Evian, Reebok, and Seiko. and opportunities to perform professionally, which were permitted after the International Skating Union abolished the earlier strict amateur status rules that had governed eligibility for the sport. In preparation for the 1994 Winter Olympics, she curtailed these activities in order to focus on her training instead. She also began working with a sports psychologist to better handle her nerves in competition.
January 1994 attack
On January 6, 1994 at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, Kerrigan gained international fame far beyond the skating world. As she was walking through a corridor at Cobo Arena immediately after a practice session, Kerrigan was clubbed on the right knee with a police baton by assailant Shane Stant. The assault was planned by rival Tonya Harding's ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt (1967–2007). The incident became known as The Whack Heard Round the World.
The immediate aftermath of the attack was recorded on a TV camera and broadcast around the world. The initial footage shows the attendants helping Kerrigan as she grabbed at her knee wailing: "Why, why, why?" Kerrigan is also seen being carried away by her father Daniel. Although Kerrigan's injury forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Championships, her fellow skaters agreed that she merited one of the two spots on the Olympic team. The USFSA chose to name her to the Olympic team rather than second-place finisher Michelle Kwan, who was sent to Lillehammer as an alternate in the event that Harding was removed from the team.
Kerrigan recovered quickly from her knee injury and resumed her intensive training. She practiced by doing complete back-to-back double runs-through of her programs, until she felt completely confident in her ability to compete under pressure. The fame she had acquired from the attack led to further opportunities; it was reported that she had already signed endorsement contracts for $9.5 million before the Olympics began.
1994 Winter Olympics and post-event controversy
The Ladies single skating event at the Winter Olympics took place seven weeks after the attack, and Kerrigan skated what she considered to be the best two performances of her life in the short program and free skate. She won the silver medal in the 1994 Lillehammer Winter Olympics at the Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre, finishing second to Oksana Baiul and ahead of Chen Lu, who took the bronze medal as Tonya Harding finished in eighth place amid controversy (Harding had trouble with the laces on her skates and was given a re-skate by the judges). Kerrigan was in first place after the short program but lost the free skate and the gold medal to Baiul in a close and controversial 5–4 decision. CBS Television played up the controversy by portraying it as a Cold War East-West split, singling out German judge Jan Hoffmann in particular for supposed biased judging.
While Kerrigan and Lu waited over 20 minutes for Olympic officials to find a copy of the Ukrainian national anthem, someone mistakenly told Kerrigan the delay in the presentation was because Baiul had cried off her make-up and was getting it retouched. Kerrigan, with obvious frustration, was caught on-camera saying "Oh, come on. So she's going to get out here and cry again. What's the difference?" CBS chose to air the undiplomatic comment. This marked a distinct shift in the way Kerrigan was portrayed in the media, which had been somewhat protective of her image up to that point because of the attack against her.
Kerrigan then chose not to attend the closing ceremonies at the Olympics. Her agent claimed this was because Norwegian security advised her not to do so because of death threats that had been made against her, but this was later denied. Instead, she left Norway early to take part in a pre-arranged publicity parade at Walt Disney World, her $2-million sponsor. During the parade, she was caught on microphone saying to Mickey Mouse, "This is dumb. I hate it. This is the corniest thing I have ever done." She later claimed her remark was taken out of context: She was not commenting on being in the parade, but rather because her agent insisted she wear her silver medal in the parade. She said showing off and bragging about her accomplishments was something that her parents always taught her not to do. She added that she had nothing against Disney or Mickey Mouse, and: "Who could find fault with Mickey Mouse? He's the greatest mouse I've ever known."
Commenting on the media backlash, Mike Barnicle of The Boston Globe said "Now the thing is over so we've got to kill her. That's us [the media], not her." Either because of the bad publicity or her own inclinations, some of Kerrigan's previously announced endorsements and television deals were dropped after the Olympics.
Kerrigan's Olympic skating fashions
Kerrigan's Olympic skating outfits were designed by noted fashion designer Vera Wang. Along with Christian Lacroix's designs for Surya Bonaly in 1992, Wang's designs marked a new trend for couture designs in figure skating. Kerrigan's white 1992 free skating costume resembled a wedding dress with sheer illusion sleeves and a basketweave design on the bodice. Kerrigan's 1994 Olympic dresses were also designed by Wang. She wore another white dress trimmed with black velvet bands and sheer black sleeves for the original program, and a champagne-colored dress set with 11,500 rhinestones for the free skate. Wang donated those two dresses to Kerrigan. The value of the white dress was estimated at $9,600 and the crystal-trimmed dress at $13,000.
Post-Olympic skating career
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Kerrigan retired from amateur competition after the Olympics. She appeared in a few professional competitions such as Ice Wars, but focused her career on performing in a variety of ice shows. She has appeared in Champions on Ice, Broadway on Ice, and an ice show adaptation of the musical Footloose, among other productions.
Television and movies
In 1995, Nancy had a guest appearance on Boy Meets World in the episode, "Wrong Side of the Track."
Kerrigan appeared in the Fox television program Skating with Celebrities (2006) and played a small part in the ice skating comedy feature film Blades of Glory (2007) with Will Ferrell. She hosted Nancy Kerrigan's World of Skating on the Comcast Network[when?] and has done commentary work for other skating broadcasts.
She has written an instructional book on advanced figure skating technique, Artistry on Ice (ISBN 0-7360-3697-0).
In 2014, ESPN aired The Price of Gold, a 30 for 30 documentary about the 1994 attack. On February 23, 2014, NBC aired a documentary during the 2014 Winter Olympics on the incident called Nancy & Tonya. The documentary is available on Netflix.
Kerrigan created The Nancy Kerrigan Foundation to raise awareness and support for the vision impaired. Her mother, Brenda, is legally blind.
On September 9, 1995—the year after she retired from competition— Kerrigan married her agent, Jerry Solomon; the marriage was her first and his third. The couple has three children together, Matthew (b. 1996), Brian (b. 2005), and Nicole (b. 2008). Solomon also has a son from his second marriage.
Kerrigan's father died at age 70 on January 24, 2010, allegedly due to a violent struggle with his son Mark in a dispute over the use of a telephone. Prosecutors said Mark was in a drunken rage when he choked his father during the incident; he was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death. The family said her father died of a long-standing heart condition. Nancy called the allegation of homicide unjustified and said she would defend Mark. She and her mother appeared on a joint witness list to possibly testify at his trial, which was due to begin on May 13, 2011. On May 25, 2011, Mark was acquitted of manslaughter but found guilty of assault and battery by a Middlesex County jury. He was sentenced to 2½ years in prison with six months suspended.
|U.S. Champ.||11th J.||4th J.||12th||5th||4th||3rd||2nd||1st|
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