Nearly 25 years after she became the most notorious figure skater in America, Tonya Harding still evokes strong reactions, both pro and con.
Her detractors and defenders are detailed in a Wednesday profile in the New York Times, which features comments from Harding about her life before and after the 1994 attack on her skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan, and a new movie that covers all of it.
The Kerrigan assault, which was organized by Harding’s ex-husband and others, ultimately ended Harding’s amateur skating career once U.S. Figure Skating found she “had prior knowledge [of the attack] and was involved prior to the incident.”
The association banned Harding and stripped her of her ’94 national championship, which she won after Kerrigan was clubbed at practice and withdrew from competition.
Harding denied involvement — and, though she pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution of what happened, admitting she hadn’t come forward once she found out about it, she was not charged in connection with committing the attack itself.
Still, suspicion about what she really knew hung around her neck, even as reporting about her hardscrabble life — and the domestic abuse she had suffered — complicated tidy assumptions about Harding as a victim or perpetrator.
Over the years, Harding told the Times, she has faced some severe backlash for her perceived wrongdoing.
“I’ve had rats thrown into my mailboxes, [expletive] left on my door, left in my mailbox, all over my trucks,” she said. “You name it, it’s been done to me.”
Now 47, Harding is remarried and has a child. According to the Times, she met husband Joe Price by chance at a local restaurant in Washington in 2010. She proposed to him after a few weeks and was pregnant with their son, Gordon, almost immediately.
Officially, she told the Times, she goes by Tonya Price.
She said she found the film, for which she was interviewed, “magnificent.”
Having moved from her home state of Oregon to Washington (“I moved …. because Oregon was buttheads”), Harding is not without her fans on the ice.
The Times accompanied her to a rink in Vancouver, Washington, where she was warmly received by a group of teenagers.
One mother told the paper, “She’s such a good influence on the girls.”