“Why? Why? Why?”
20 years ago today, the ice skating world was rocked with violence and awe when Nancy Kerrigan, a favorite and Olympic hopeful, was attacked in a Detroit arena after leaving a practice session.
The man who attacked Kerrigan fled the scene as a passenger in a getaway car, but was later identified as Shane Stant, a friend of Jeff Gillooly, who was the ex-husband of Tonya Harding, another figure skater who was vying for a spot in the Olympics.
Stant had been hired by Gillooly and Harding’s body guard, Shawn Eckhardt, to break Kerrigan’s leg so she would be unable to skate.
According to CBS Detroit, Kerrigan’s knee injury kept her out of the qualifier for the Olympics; however, both she and Harding were picked to represent the United States. That year, Harding finished eighth and Kerrigan earned a silver medal.
On February 1, 1994, Gillooly testified against Harding in exchange for a plea bargain. He, Eckhardt, Stant, and the getaway driver all served time in prison. Harding plead guilty on March 15, receiving three years probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine. She also was forced to resign from the United States Figure Skating Association who claimed that Harding knew about the attack before it happened, saying that Harding showed “a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior.”
In 2008, Harding wrote that she tried to come forth and tell more about what she knew, but Gillooly threatened her with death following a gunpoint rape by him and two other men.
In her book, Harding wrote, “Jeff and two other guys – don’t know who they were because I couldn’t see who they were – they were in a different car – decided to drive me up to the mountains, put a gun to my head, and take themselves upon me … They told me, this is what you are going to say. This is what you are going to do, and if you don’t, you’re not going to be here anymore.”
Gillooly, who had changed his name to Jeff Stone, responded by saying, “Her saying that I gang raped her is ridiculous. I am surprised that some publisher would even print this.”
Harding went on to have a mediocre career in boxing, which ended quickly because, she claimed, of her asthma. However, she was often booed upon entering the ring. Her final boxing record was 3-3-0.
After retiring from skating, Kerrigan has appeared in ice shows such as Champions on Ice and Broadway on Ice. She appeared in the film Blades of Glory with Will Ferrell and was a special correspondent for Entertainment Tonight during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The 44-year old has been married to her agent, Jerry Solomon, since 1995. They have three children together.
Image via Youtube