Tonya Harding: The Bad Girl of Figure Skating.

Today I proceed to talk to you about Tonya Harding, the first skater in history who succeeded to perform a Triple Axel in an official competition (a jump with a twist in the air of 1260º, three and a half laps, starting face and falling on his back).

So far everything positive about the athlete’s life, now let’s start with her misfortunes:

Tonya was born in Portland, Oregon, in 1970, raised on the outskirts of the city, began to skate at age 3. His other youth hobbies were hunting, car racing and mechanics.

His life moved between the thin line between moving forward and sending everything to wind: living in a low-income family in which only his mother worked, abused by it many times in public to the point of ensuring that with 7 years the physical and psychological abuses were already integrated into her life, and later with her boyfriend and later husband Jeff Gillooly, they carried the meaning of a toxic relationship to its exhaustion: fights, screams, violence, disbanded, threats, mixed with unbridled sex and alienation mental.

In the mid-80s he left the institute to focus exclusively on skating, competed in his first national championship at age 16 and gradually improved his marks until 1991, his key year, when he was proclaimed national champion with a perfect score of all the judges for the technical merit of having performed for the first time the Triple Axel in women’s skating, which no one else could match in that competition. She repeated it again in the world championship that same year, finishing in second position. But dark times were approaching, with proper name and surname:

Nancy Kerrigan

  • Tonya Harding vs Nancy Kerrigan

Tonya and Nancy were like the Yin and Yan of skating in the US: The blond and casual Choni of the West Coast, which all the judges did not have and had to combine sport with bad jobs, in front of the posh brunnete and the frigid of New England, favorite of all jurors who could spend all day training.

From Nancy’s irruption in the high competition, she began to go downhill: she never managed to do the Axel again, the notes in her competitions began to be worse and little by little she fell in the rankings and walked away of the places to go to the Winter Olympics in 1994. Tonya internally blamed Nancy for all her ills: those Olympics marked the fine line between continuing her career or leaving her and told her husband about his plan to take revenge on her:

There was little left for the Nationals of that year, and Tonya came up with an idea: they would send an anonymous letter to Nancy with threats of assaulting her and injuring her during the competition, so she would distract, make a bad test, Tonya would rise in the rankings and be I would qualify for the Olympics with the US team.

But Jeff, who was unemployed at the time, and along with some of his friends were trying to set up a bodyguard company, it occurred to him to give a twist: If they injured Nancy not only Tonya would go to the Olympics, but that the national alarm would cause several elite athletes to begin to demand bodyguards so that the same did not happen to them, and their company would start to obtain benefits.

So neither short nor lazy Jeff and his friend Shawn hired an ex-convict for $2,000 to injure Nancy, hitting her on the knee with a telescopic pole at the end of a workout. There was no bone fracture, but the injury prevented her from participating in the National Championship.

With Nancy injured Tonya won the National Championship in 1994 and qualified for the following Winter Olympics: it was no use getting there, a problem with the shoelaces in the middle of her test made her finish eighth while Nancy, just recovered from her injury, she took the silver medal. The Olympics became a media circus around the event.

Tonya finally admitted that he was aware of everything, but that it was thought that Nancy was not going to be more of extortion or threat, to scare her. And while her husband and friends went to jail, she was convicted of obstructing the investigation of the crime.

In addition to a large fine, she was sentenced not to skid again professionally and the title of champion of 1994 was withdrawn, so after assuming that she was going to have to leave what had been until then the “meaning of her life ”, He took advantage of the media pull to devote herself to the other thing that she was best: boxing.

As for Jeff… well, in addition to changing his last name to Stone, he ended up selling the sexual video of his wedding night for a few bucks on TV to survive. Tonya was 19 years old there.

There is a film that tells all this starring Margot Robbie, in case anyone is also interested.

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