Kerrigan interviewed in Turin, Italy, February 22, 2006
|Full name||Nancy Ann Kerrigan|
October 13, 1969 |
|Height||1.62 m (5 ft 4 in)|
|Former coach||Evy Scotvold
Nancy Ann Kerrigan (born October 13, 1969) is an American former figure skater. She is the 1994 Olympic silver medalist, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist, a two-time world medalist, and the 1993 US National Champion. She is also noted for her conflict with skating rival Tonya Harding.
Early life and skating career
Kerrigan was born in Woburn, Massachusetts, to Daniel Kerrigan (1939–2010) and Brenda M. (Schultz) Kerrigan (born 1939). Her ancestry includes Irish, English and German (she has stated: "There's very little Irish in me, just my name"). She began ice skating at age six at the local rink in her hometown of Stoneham, Massachusetts. Her two older brothers, Michael and Mark, played hockey, but hockey was not considered an appropriate activity for girls at that time so she took up figure skating instead. She did not start private lessons until age eight and won her first figure skating medal at age nine.
The Kerrigan family was of modest means. Kerrigan's father, a welder, 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 4th 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, 5th in 1989, and 4th 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 teammates 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 placing 2nd. She received a bronze medal in the 1992 Winter Olympics (Yamaguchi won the gold), and the silver medal at the 1992 World Championships.
The following season, with Yamaguchi retired from eligible competition, Kerrigan became United States Champion, although with a flawed performance she admitted she would have to improve upon 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.
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 Olympic season, 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
Kerrigan gained considerable fame beyond the skating world when, on January 6, 1994, she was clubbed in the right knee with a police baton by Shane Stant after a practice session at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit, an assault 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."
Some of the attack and its aftermath, which took place in a corridor at Cobo Arena, were caught on camera and broadcast around the world, particularly the now-famous footage of attendants helping Kerrigan as she grabbed at her knee wailing: "Why, why, why?" Although Kerrigan's injury forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Championships, her rivals 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.
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 professional opportunities; it was reported that she had already signed contracts for $9.5 million before the Olympics began.
1994 Winter Olympics and post-event controversy
Seven weeks after the attack, Kerrigan skated what she considered to be the best two performances of her life and 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. Kerrigan won the short program but lost the free skate 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.
Then, 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."
News articles described Kerrigan as "grumpy" and "bitchy", as well as shy and uncomfortable with the attention focused on her because of the attack. 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
Nancy 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
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
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.
She created The Nancy Kerrigan Foundation to raise awareness and support for the vision impaired. Kerrigan's mother, Brenda, is legally blind.
Kerrigan married her agent, Jerry Solomon, on September 9, 1995, the year after she retired from competition. The marriage was her first and his third. The couple have three children together, Matthew (b. Dec. 17, 1997), Brian (b. April 14, 2005), and Nicole (b. May 14, 2008). Jerry 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; Mark Kerrigan was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death. The family said her father died of a long-standing heart condition. Nancy Kerrigan called the allegation of homicide unjustified and said she would defend her brother. She and her mother appeared on a joint witness list to possibly testify at Mark Kerrigan's trial, which was due to begin on May 13, 2011. Following the court proceedings on May 19, 2011, Nancy Kerrigan was involved in a two-car accident in Wakefield, Massachusetts. There were no injuries to either party. On May 25, 2011, Mark Kerrigan 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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