|Full name||Tonya Maxene Price|
|Country represented||United States|
|Born||Tonya Maxene Harding
November 12, 1970
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
|Height||5 ft 1 in (1.55 m)|
|Coach||Diane Rawlinson, Dody Teachman|
Tonya Maxene Price known professionally as Tonya Harding (born November 12, 1970) is a retired American figure skater. She was the 1991 U.S. champion and 1991 World Championship silver medalist. Harding is also a two-time Olympian and a two-time Skate America Champion. She was the first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a single competition, and the first to complete a triple axel in combination with a double toe loop.
In late 1993, Harding was an Olympian hopeful when she became engulfed in controversy following an attack on skating rival Nancy Kerrigan. After the games ended, she pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution and was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. Harding is the subject of the 2017 movie I, Tonya.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Skating career
- 3 Attack on Nancy Kerrigan and aftermath
- 4 Later celebrity
- 5 Personal life
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Tonya Harding was born on November 12, 1970 in Portland, Oregon, to LaVona Golden (b. 1940) and Albert Harding (1933–2009). Harding was raised in Portland and began skating at the age of three. As a youth, Harding also hunted, drag raced, and learned automotive mechanics from her father. LaVona struggled to help support the family while she worked as a waitress, and she hand-sewed Tonya's competition skating costumes.
Harding had a troubled childhood. She said that by the time she was seven years old, her mother had mentally and physically abused her. LaVona admitted to one instance of hitting Tonya at an ice rink. Tonya dropped out of Milwaukie High School during her sophomore year in order to focus on skating; she later earned a General Equivalency Diploma.
In the mid-1980s, Harding began working her way up the competitive skating ladder. She placed sixth at the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, fifth in 1987 and 1988, and third in 1989. After winning Skate America in 1989, she was considered a strong contender at the 1990 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, but she was suffering from the flu and asthma and had a poor free skate. After the original program, she dropped from second place and finished seventh overall. She was a powerful free skater and typically had lower placements in the compulsory figures.
Harding's breakthrough year came in 1991, when she landed her first triple axel at the U.S. Championships and won 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—becoming the first American woman to perform it at an international event. Harding would finish second behind Kristi Yamaguchi, and in front of Nancy Kerrigan, marking the first time one country swept the ladies medal podium at the World Figure Skating Championships.
At the Fall 1991 Skate America, Harding recorded three more firsts:
- The first woman to complete a triple axel in the short program;
- The first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a single competition;
- 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 the 1993 season, she skated poorly in the U.S. Championships and failed to qualify for the World Championship team.
Following legal controversy, Harding was permitted to remain a member of the U.S. ice skating team at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. After a problem with her laces, she was given a re-skate in the long program and finished in eighth place, far behind Oksana Baiul (gold) and Nancy Kerrigan (silver).
Figure skating record
|Skate Canada International||4th|
|U.S. Olympic Festival||2nd|
|Prize of Moscow News||1st|
|U.S. Championships||6th||5th||5th||3rd||7th||1st||3rd||4th|
^† In June 1994, Claire Ferguson—the President of 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.
Attack on Nancy Kerrigan and aftermath
On January 6, 1994Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by an assailant later identified as Shane Stant after a practice session at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (1967–), and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, 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 leg about 1 inch (3 cm) above the knee with a 21-inch (53 cm) ASP telescopic baton. 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. Harding finished eighth in Lillehammer, while Kerrigan, by then recovered from the injury, won the silver medal behind Oksana Baiul from Ukraine., Harding's main team competitor
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." The tape-delayed broadcast of the women's short program at the Olympics remains one of the most watched telecasts in American history.
On February 1, 1994, Gillooly accepted a plea offer in exchange for his testimony against Harding. Gillooly, Stant, Eckhardt, and getaway car driver Derrick Smith all served time in prison for the attack. Eckhardt was sentenced to 18 months in prison for racketeering but was released four months early in September 1995.
Harding was charged in Multnomah County, Oregon but avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence by pleading guilty on March 16 to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers. She received three years' probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $100,000 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. The USFSA conducted its own investigation of the attack. On June 30, 1994, the association 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. 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 boom in professional skating that ensued in the aftermath of the scandal.
In her 2008 autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, Harding stated that she wanted to call the FBI to reveal what she knew, but decided not to 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 accusations of gang rape "utterly ridiculous." Eckhardt, who legally changed his name to Brian Sean Griffith following his release from jail, died at age 40 on December 12, 2007.
Harding had a celebrity sex tape: an explicit "Wedding Video" showed her having sex with her then-husband, Jeff Gillooly. Gillooly had sold the tape to a tabloid TV show after being implicated as a conspirator in the Kerrigan attack. Stills from the tape were published by Penthouse in September 1994 and the tape itself was released at about the same time.
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.
|Real name||Tonya Maxene Harding|
|Height||5 ft 1 in (1.55 m)|
|Wins by KO||0|
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".
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 when she won in the third round.
|3 Wins (3 decisions), 3 Losses (2 knockouts, 1 decision), 0 Draws|
|2004-06-25||Amy Johnson||Loss||TKO||3 (4), 1:04||Edmonton, Alberta, Canada|
|2003-08-02||Melissa Yanas||Loss||TKO||1 (4), 1:13||Dallas, Texas, U.S.|
|2003-06-13||Emily Gosa||Win||Decision (unanimous)||4 (4)||Lincoln City, Oregon, U.S.|
|2003-03-28||Alejandra Lopez||Win||Decision (unanimous)||4 (4)||Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.|
|2003-03-15||Shannon Birmingham||Win||Decision (unanimous)||4 (4)||Gulfport, Mississippi, U.S.|
|2003-02-22||Samantha Browning||Loss||Decision (split)||4 (4)||Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
Automobile racing land speed record
On August 12, 2010 Harding set a new land speed record for a vintage gas coupe with a speed of 97.177 mph (156.391 km/h; 43.442 m/s) driving a 1931 Ford Model A, named Lickity-Split, on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Harding married Jeff Gillooly in 1990, when she was 19 years old. Their tumultuous marriage ended in divorce in 1993, but they continued seeing each other heading into the 1994 Winter Olympics. She married her second husband, Michael Smith, in 1995; the couple divorced in 1996. She married 42-year-old Joseph Price on June 23, 2010, when she was 39 years old and now prefers to go by her married name of Tonya Price. She gave birth to her only child, a son named Gordon, on February 19, 2011.
Since leaving skating and boxing, Harding has worked as a welder, a painter at a metal fabrication company, and a hardware sales clerk at Sears.
In popular culture
- Australian actress Margot Robbie portrays Harding in the biographical film I, Tonya. The film was released on December 8, 2017 in the United States, and grossed $264,155.00 over its first weekend.
- In 1994, former MTV VJ and comedian Julie Brown spoofed Harding in the TV film National Lampoon's Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women.
- The 1994 telemovie ‘Tonya and Nancy: The Inside Story’, Tonya is played by Alexandra Powers while Nancy is played by Heather Langenkamp.
- In 2014, ESPN aired a 30 for 30 documentary on the Kerrigan attack called The Price of Gold.
- During the 1993 to 1994 Season of In Living Color, sketch actress Alexandra Wentworth played Tonya in a number of sketches. 
- In an episode of the television program Seinfeld called "The Understudy," when Jerry’s girlfriend, a Broadway 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. Additionally, Jerry’s girlfriend was the understudy on the show and only got to perform because the lead actress suffered an injury that everyone claims was caused by a hitman, George.
- 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.
- In a 2018 episode of Modern Family, the character Gloria tells of a time in Colombia that she whacked another competitive swimmer in the leg with a skimmer pole. Her son Manny says "You Tonya Harding-ed a girl?". Season 9, episode 11 
Music and opera
- Elizabeth Searle collaborated with composer Abigail Al-Doory to create Tonya and Nancy: The Opera, a chamber opera produced in May 2006 by Tufts University and directed by Meron Langsner.
- She was the subject of "Tonya's Twirls," a song by Loudon Wainwright III, a US folk musician. The song was recorded and issued on Social Studies (1999), with a live recording also issued on So Damn Happy (2003).
- The 1994 "Weird Al" Yankovic parody song "Headline News" contains lyrics about Harding and her role in the attack on Kerrigan.
- Sufjan Stevens' song "Tonya Harding" was released on December 6, 2017. In an accompanying essay, Stevens wrote that he composed the song "with dignity and grace, to pull back the ridiculous tabloid fodder and take stock of the real story of this strange and magnificent American hero."
- The 1994 film, Attack of the 5 Ft. 2 In. Women by Julie Brown, also contains the musical parody "Queen of the Ice."
- The 2018 song, from album Mania (Fall Out Boy album), "Stay Frosty Royal Milk Tea" by Fall Out Boy contains a reference to the attack on Kerrigan in the line "I'm about to go Tonya Harding on the whole world's knee".
- 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.
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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.
- "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.
- "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.
- 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.
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- "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.
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