Tonya Harding

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Tonya Harding
Tonya harding mac club 1994 crop.jpg
Harding at Portland, Oregon, reception shortly after the 1994 Winter Olympics
Personal information
Full name Tonya Maxene Harding
Country represented United States
Born (1970-11-12) November 12, 1970 (age 46)
Portland, Oregon, United States
Residence Yacolt, Washington, United States
Spouse(s) Jeff Gillooly (1990-1993)
Michael Smith (1995-1996)
Joseph Jens Price (2010-present)
Height 5 ft 1 in (155 cm)
Coach Diane Rawlinson, Dody Teachman

Tonya Maxene Harding[1] (born November 12, 1970)[2][3] is an American former figure skater. She was a two-time Olympian and a two-time Skate America Champion. In 1991, she won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and placed second in the World Championships. Harding was the second woman (and the first American woman) to complete a triple axel jump in competition.[4] In 1994, she was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association after pleading guilty to hindering the prosecution following the attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan.[5]

Early life[edit]

Ice Chalet at Portland's Lloyd Center, where Harding began skating at age three[5]

Tonya Harding was born November 12, 1970 in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of LaVona Fay Golden (b. 1940), and her fifth husband, Al Harding (1933–2009). She and her brother Karl grew up in Portland. Her father had health problems that sometimes left him unable to work.[citation needed] Harding began skating at age three.[4] Tonya landed her first triple lutz at age 12.[citation needed] Harding stopped attending David Douglas High School in Portland during her sophomore year. She earned a GED later.[6]

Tonya Harding has stated that by the time she was 7 years old, she was mentally and physically abused by her mother.[7][8] Her mother has admitted to one instance of hitting Tonya at an ice rink.[7]

Skating career[edit]

Harding began working her way up the competitive skating ladder in the mid-1980s, placing sixth at the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, fifth in 1987 and 1988, and third 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 second place after the original program to finish seventh overall. While she was a powerful free skater, she typically had lower placements in the compulsory figures.

Harding's breakthrough year was in 1991, where she landed her first triple axel at the U.S. Championships,[4] winning the title with the event's first 6.0 ever given to a single female skater for technical merit. At the 1991 World Championships, she again completed the triple axel jump (becoming the first American woman to perform it at an international event) but finished second to Kristi Yamaguchi.

In her career, Harding successfully completed four triple axels in competition. All of them were in 1991, where she completed each one she tried: one at the U.S. Championships, another at the World Championships, and two at the Fall 1991 Skate America competition.[citation needed]

At the Fall 1991 Skate America, Harding recorded three more firsts:

  1. The first woman to complete a triple axel in the short program;
  2. The first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a single competition;
  3. The first ever to complete a triple axel combination with the double toe loop.

Despite these record-breaking performances, she was never able to successfully perform the triple axel in a competition after 1991, and her competitive results began to decline as a result. In 1992, she placed third in the U.S. Championships after twisting her ankle in practice. She finished fourth in the 1992 Winter Olympics, and in the 1992 World Championships, she placed sixth in a weak field. In the 1993 season, she skated poorly in the U.S. Championships and failed to qualify for the World Championship team.

Harding was a member of the U.S. ice skating team at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.[9] Amid controversy before and during the Games, she finished in eighth place, far behind Oksana Baiul (gold) and Nancy Kerrigan (silver).

Figure skating record[edit]

International
Event[10][11][12] 1985–86 1986–87 1987–88 1988–89 1989–90 1990–91 1991–92 1992–93 1993–94
Winter Olympics 4th 8th
World Championships 2nd 6th
Skate America 2nd 1st 1st 3rd
Skate Canada International 4th
Nations Cup 1st
NHK Trophy 3rd 2nd 4th
U.S. Olympic Festival 2nd
Prize of Moscow News 1st
National
U.S. Championships 6th 5th 5th 3rd 7th 1st 3rd 4th 1st

^† In June 1994, Claire Ferguson and the U.S. Figure Skating Association voted to strip Harding of her 1994 title. However, the competition results were not changed and the title was left vacant rather than moving all the other competitors up one position.[13][14]

Attack on Nancy Kerrigan and aftermath[edit]

Harding's practice sessions at Clackamas Town Center, in preparation for the 1994 Winter Olympics, were attended by thousands of spectators and dozens of reporters and film crews.

On January 6, 1994, Harding's main team competitor Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by assailant Shane Stant after a practice session at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt,[15] hired Stant to break Kerrigan's right leg so that she would be unable to compete at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. After failing to find Kerrigan at her training rink in Massachusetts, Stant followed her to Detroit. When she stepped off the ice after a practice session at Cobo Arena and walked behind a nearby curtain into a corridor, Stant struck her on the thigh a few inches above the knee with an ASP telescopic baton.[16] Her leg was only bruised, not broken, but the injury forced her to withdraw from the national championship. Harding won that event, and she and Kerrigan were both selected for the 1994 Olympic team.[9] Harding finished eighth in Lillehammer, while Kerrigan, by then fully recovered from the injury, won the silver medal behind Oksana Baiul from Ukraine.

The attack on Kerrigan and the news of Harding's alleged involvement led to a media frenzy. Kerrigan 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 her every move in Lillehammer. Four hundred 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."[17] The tape-delayed broadcast of the short program at the Olympics remains one of the most watched telecasts in American history.[18]

On February 1, 1994, Gillooly accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against Harding. Gillooly, Stant, Eckhardt, and getaway car driver Derrick Smith all served time in prison for the attack.[19] Eckhardt was sentenced to 18 months in prison for racketeering but was released four months early in September 1995.[15]

Tonya Harding arriving at Portland International Airport after the 1994 Olympics amid a crush of reporters

Harding avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence by pleading guilty on March 16 to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers.[20] She received three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, she was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and resign from the United States Figure Skating Association.[21] On June 30, 1994, after conducting its own investigation of the attack, the USFSA stripped her of her 1994 U.S. Championships title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or a coach.[14] The USFSA concluded that she knew about the attack before it happened and displayed "a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior". Although the USFSA has no control over non-competitive professional skating events, she was also persona non grata on the pro circuit because few skaters and promoters would work with her. Consequently, she failed to benefit from the professional skating boom that ensued in the aftermath of the scandal.[17]

In her 2008 autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, Harding states that she wanted to call the FBI to reveal what she knew, but refused when Gillooly allegedly threatened her with death following a gunpoint gang rape by him and two other men she did not know. He subsequently changed his name to Jeff Stone and called the allegations "utterly ridiculous."[8] Eckhardt, who legally changed his name to Brian Sean Griffith following his release from jail, died of natural causes at age 40 on December 12, 2007.[15]

Later celebrity[edit]

Harding had a celebrity sex tape: an explicit "wedding video" showed her having sex with her then-husband, Jeff Gillooly. They had sold it together to Penthouse, for an advance of $200,000 each plus royalties.[22]

On June 22, 1994, in Portland, Oregon, Harding appeared on an AAA professional wrestling show as the manager for wrestling stable Los Gringos Locos. The night's performance included Art Barr, Eddie Guerrero, and Brian Cox.[23]

A promotional musical event was unsuccessful when Harding and her band, the Golden Blades, were booed off the stage in their only performance, in 1995 in Portland, Oregon.[24][25]

In 1994, Harding was cast in a low-budget action film, Breakaway.[26] The film was released in 1996.[27]

In late 1996, she used mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to help revive an 81-year-old woman, Alice Olson, who collapsed at a bar in Portland while playing video poker.[28]

In March 2008, she became a commentator for TruTV's The Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest....[29]

Boxing career[edit]

In 2002, she boxed against Paula Jones on the Fox TV network Celebrity Boxing event, 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 fight in the ring to earn money. She did another celebrity boxing match, on The Man Show, and won against co-host Doug Stanhope. Stanhope later claimed on his podcast that the fight was fixed because Tonya Harding refused to "fight a man". [30]

She won her third professional bout against Alejandra Lopez at the Creek Nations Gaming Center.

On March 23, 2004, it was reported that she canceled 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, she was beaten in a match in Edmonton, Alberta, by Amy Johnson. Fans reportedly booed her as she entered the ring and cheered wildly for Johnson as she won in the third round. Harding later protested the outcome.

Her boxing career was quite short, a brevity she attributed to asthma.[31] Her overall record was 4–3–0.[32]

Professional record[edit]

4 Wins (3 decisions, 1 TKO), 3 Losses (2 knockouts, 1 decision), 0 Draws[33]
Date Opponent Result Type Round, Time Location
2003-02-22 Samantha Browning Loss Decision (split) 4 (4) Los Angeles, California, U.S.
2003-03-15 Shannon Birmingham Win Decision (unanimous) 4 (4) Gulfport, Mississippi, U.S.
2003-03-28 Alejandra Lopez Win Decision (unanimous) 4 (4) Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
2003-06-13 Emily Gosa Win Decision (unanimous) 4 (4) Lincoln City, Oregon, U.S.
2003-08-02 Melissa Yanas Loss TKO 1 (4), 1:13 Dallas, Texas, U.S.
2004-06-14 Doug Stanhope Win KO 1 (4) The Man Show, U.S.
2004-06-25 Amy Johnson Loss TKO 3 (4), 1:04 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Automobile racing land speed record[edit]

On August 12, 2010, Harding set a new land speed record for a vintage gas coupe with a speed of 97.177 mph driving a 1931 Ford Model A, named Lickity-Split, on the Bonneville Salt Flats.[34][35]

Personal life[edit]

Harding married Jeff Gillooly in 1990,[4] when she was 19 years old. Their tumultuous marriage ended in divorce in 1993.[36] She married her second husband, Michael Smith, in 1995 and divorced in 1996.[37] She married 42-year-old Joseph Jens Price on June 23, 2010.[38] She gave birth to her only child, a son named Gordon on February 19, 2011.[39]

In culture[edit]

Harding and her role in the Kerrigan attack have been widely referenced in sitcom episodes, music videos, and a primary campaign speech by Barack Obama.[40]

In 2014, Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen created the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding Museum in their Brooklyn, New York apartment.[41]

Film[edit]

On March 21, 2016, it was announced that Australian actress Margot Robbie would portray Harding in the upcoming biographical film, I, Tonya.[42]

Television[edit]

  • In 2014, ESPN aired a 30 for 30 documentary on the Kerrigan attack called The Price of Gold.[43]
  • On February 23, 2014, NBC aired a documentary on the Kerrigan scandal called Nancy & Tonya.
  • Spunk: The Tonya Harding Story was a satirical short which aired on Comedy Central during the 1994 Olympic Games.
  • In an episode of the television program Seinfeld called "The Understudy," when Seinfeld's date, a performer, 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.[44][45]
  • A 1999 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 featured the movie Soultaker. The star/writer of the movie, Vivian Schilling, was the target of numerous Tonya Harding references in the MST3k episode due to their physical resemblance.[46]
  • In an episode of the television program Gilmore Girls called "'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous," Miss Patty recalls an incident where a ballerina "pulls a Tonya Harding" to knock the front-runner out of the lead role for The Nutcracker.

Music and opera[edit]

Print[edit]

  • The book Women on Ice: Feminist Essays on the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Spectacle (1995) included a number of essays analyzing her public image in the context of the sport of figure skating.[50]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Janofsky, Michael (February 7, 1994). "Winter Olympics; Always Tonya: As Cool as Ice But Troubled". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Tonya Harding Biography: Ice Skater, Athlete (1970–)". Biography.com (FYI / A&E Networks). Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  3. ^ Brownstone, David M.; Franck, Irene (1995). People in the News, 1995. Macmillan Reference USA. p. 155. ISBN 0028970586. 
  4. ^ a b c d Janofsky, Michael (March 12, 1991). "A Triple Axel With Rippling Effects". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ a b Marshall, Sarah. Remote Control, The Believer, January 2013.
  6. ^ Saari, Peggy (1998). Great Misadventures: Bad Ideas That Led to Big Disasters. Thomson Gale. p. 697. ISBN 0787627992. 
  7. ^ a b "Tonya Harding's Skating Scandal". Oprah.com. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b Tonya Harding reveals her side of roller-coaster life Today Show May 15, 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Skater Nancy Kerrigan Assaulted". MassMoments.org. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  10. ^ "Olympic Results – Medalists" (PDF). usfigureskating.org. U.S. Figure Skating. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 2, 2007. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Worlds results" (PDF). isu.org. International Skating Union. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 3, 2011. Retrieved August 30, 2006. 
  12. ^ "World Figure Skating Championships 1990–1999 results". eskatefans.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2004. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  13. ^ Skating magazine, August 1994
  14. ^ a b "U.S. Title Is Taken Back From Harding". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 1, 1994. Retrieved September 28, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c "Player in attack on Kerrigan dies at 40". Yahoo News. December 15, 2007. Archived from the original on December 18, 2007. 
  16. ^ Swift, E. M. (February 14, 1994). "Anatomy of a Plot". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Hamilton, Scott; Benet, Lorenzo (1999). Landing It: My life on and off the ice. New York: Kensington Books. ISBN 1-57566-466-6. 
  18. ^ Nielsen Media Research (August 6, 2000). "Top 100 TV Shows of All Time". Variety. 
  19. ^ "Kerrigan Attacker and Accomplice Sent to Jail". The New York Times. May 17, 1994. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  20. ^ Longman, Jere (January 6, 1994). "Jealousy on Ice". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ "The Tonya Harding–Nancy Kerrigan Saga". Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. 1998. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  22. ^ Nelson, Amy K. (December 13, 2013). "Finding Gillooly: What Happened To Figure Skating's Infamous Villain?". Deadspin.com. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  23. ^ Guerrero, Eddie (2005). Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. Simon and Schuster. pp. 100–101. ISBN 0743493532. Tonya Harding was actually very quiet, nice and sweet, not at all like the crowbar-swinging ho the press made her out to be. Of course, she had no idea who we were. She was just earning a paycheck, capitalizing on whatever was left of her fifteen minutes of fame. 
  24. ^ "Stage Fright". People. 44 (12). Time, Inc. 1995-09-18. Retrieved 2013-04-19. When disgraced Olympic skater Tonya Harding took to the stage in Portland, Ore., earlier this month under her new guise as a pop singer, she showed none of the biker-girl swagger that once so unsettled the skating world.... Mostly what she and the other members of the Golden Blades felt was the derision of 10,000 raucous music festival fans, who jeered and tossed soda bottles onto the stage, forcing the Blades to beat a retreat. 
  25. ^ "Tonya Harding Debuts As Singer In Portland Concert For MDA". Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. 1995-08-30. Retrieved 2013-04-19. Harding will appear with her band, The Golden Blades, at a concert Sunday to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The band will perform "light pop" music, possibly including a Madonna song, according to Kellie Shipp of KKRZ-FM, the radio station that invited Harding to perform. 
  26. ^ Loh, Sandra Tsing (July 23, 1994). "Look Who's Back : Movies: Tonya Harding gives acting a spin in the action film 'Breakaway,' getting raves from cast and crew.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  27. ^ Schmitz, Ashleigh (January 9, 2014). "The Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan Scandal Turns 20: Is Harding a Victim, Too?". Parade. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Harding Helps to Save Woman's Life". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1996-10-29. Retrieved 2013-04-19. TONYA HARDING...was being saluted as a hero yesterday, after helping to save a woman's life Sunday night at a bar in suburban Portland, Ore., near her home. Shortly after Harding and her godmother LINDA LEWIS stopped at the Lost and Found Saloon to play video poker, ALICE OLSON, 81, collapsed and stopped breathing. Harding called 911 with her cellular phone and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. 
  29. ^ "truTV Presents: World's Dumbest". TV.com. Retrieved November 28, 2016. 
  30. ^ http://stanhope.libsyn.com/ep-22-comedian-andy-andrist-pt2
  31. ^ Eggers, Kerry (January 5, 2007). "Ready for 'Life With Tonya'?". Portland Tribune. 
  32. ^ Tonya Harding's professional boxing record, BoxRec.com, accessed January 13, 2007.
  33. ^ [1][dead link]
  34. ^ "Wayback Machine". August 19, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Visitor anti-robot validation". Charliesweb.com. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  36. ^ Tonya Harding biography at tonyaharding.com, accessed July 16, 2006.
  37. ^ "Tonya Harding". Biography. Retrieved 2017-04-06. 
  38. ^ "Nation & World - ContraCostaTimes.com". January 19, 2013. Archived from the original on January 19, 2013. 
  39. ^ Mike Fleeman (February 23, 2011). "Tonya Harding welcomes a son". People. Retrieved February 27, 2011. 
  40. ^ Lester, Paul (March 4, 2009). "Tonya Harding bitter and thankful over Obama's 'kneecap' comment". The Guardian. London. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  41. ^ 5:34 PM ET (2015-04-19). "Like 'Dynasty' On Ice: The Nancy Kerrigan And Tonya Harding Museum". NPR. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  42. ^ Mizoguchi, Karen (March 21, 2016). "Margot Robbie to Play Tonya Harding in Upcoming Film I, Tonya". People. Retrieved March 23, 2016. 
  43. ^ "The Price of Gold". 
  44. ^ David Lavery and Sara Lewis Dunne (2006). Seinfeld, master of its domain. Continuum International Publishing Group. Retrieved 2009-04-09. 
  45. ^ "THE MAG.COM PRESENTS: ALL WORLD POWER RANKINGS - ESPN The Magazine". Archived from the original on 2009-09-07. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  46. ^ Shypixel. "Soultaker". The Annotated MST. Retrieved 2016-12-28. 
  47. ^ "Tonya & Nancy the Rock Opera". 
  48. ^ "Tonya Twirls", accessed July 21, 2007.
  49. ^ Bromley, Tom (2006). We Could Have Been the Wombles: The Weird and Wonderful World of One-Hit Wonders. Penguin. p. 90. ISBN 0141017112. 
  50. ^ Women on Ice: Feminist Essays on the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Spectacle. 1995. ISBN 0-415-91150-8. 

External links[edit]