1994, Detroit, MI.
The Ice Skate Sabotage heard round the world.
What, you don’t know what we’re talking about? Lucky for you, we graduated with a degree in Wikipedia-ology. Here is an excerpt from our graduate thesis (Note- this is not an excerpt from our graduate thesis, nor did we ever graduate from college):
Harding became notorious in conjunction with the January 6, 1994, attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan. The widely publicized attack took place during a practice session for the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, hired Shane Stant to break Kerrigan’s right leg so that she would be unable to skate.
[pullquote quote="WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHYYYYYYYY" credit="Nancy Kerrigan"]
He followed her to Detroit after failing to find her at her training rink in Massachusetts, and struck her on the thigh a few inches above the knee with a collapsible police baton. Her leg only got bruised, not broken, but the injury forced her to withdraw from the national championship.
Harding won that event, and they both were selected for the 1994 Olympic team. After Harding admitted to helping to cover up the attack, the USFSA and United States Olympic Committee initiated proceedings to remove her from the Olympic team, but she retained her place after threatening legal action. She finished eighth in Lillehammer, while Kerrigan, by then fully recovered from the injury, won the silver medal.
The attack on Kerrigan and the news of Harding’s alleged involvement led to a media frenzy of saturation news coverage. She appeared on the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines in January 1994. Reporters and TV news crews attended her practices in Portland and camped out in front of Kerrigan’s home.
CBS assigned Connie Chung to follow her every move in Lillehammer. Counting 400 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 short program at the Olympics remains one of the most watched telecasts in American history.