Nancy Kerrigan has opened up for the first time about the figure skating scandal that shook the Olympic world 20 years ago, and said she was shocked to think Tonya Harding could be behind it because the pair ‘were friendly.’
In 1994, Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee at the US Figure Skating Championships by Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and a hit squad to try to keep her from skating against Harding in the Lillehammer Olympics.
Kerrigan, who recovered and went on to win a silver medal at the games, said she really wanted to believe Harding wasn’t involved in the bizarre plot that made worldwide headlines.
‘I truly wanted to believe that she had nothing to do with it at all,’ the 44-year-old said on Morning Joe Monday.
‘Because how could that seem possible that someone you know, I mean we were competitors, but… we were friendly. So to think that anyone you know would deliberately try to hurt you, yeah, it’s too bizarre to understand.’
She described a new documentary ‘Nancy & Tonya,’ which will air on NBC on Sunday, as being ‘surreal’ to watch.
Voice quivering and hands fidgeting, Kerrigan first watched the one-hour retrospective at a press screening in Sochi.
Many entertained the idea that Harding was somehow linked to the clumsy attack. And even after Gillooly and two associates were arrested, Kerrigan gave Harding the benefit of the doubt.
‘I can remember saying even to the FBI, “Well, maybe Tonya really didn’t know. Maybe they did it for her.”‘ she recalls. ‘And they’re like, “Nancy, we can’t prove it, but we think she was the mastermind of the whole thing.”‘
At that point she said she felt ‘disappointment, sadness.’ And while Harding still denies having any role, she says she doesn’t believe her.
‘Why would the people around her want to hurt me?’ she said on Morning Joe. ‘What did they have to gain? I guess she’s the only one who really had anything to gain. And I was told “I know we can’t prove it but we’re telling you. She did.” I hated hearing it. It stinks. It’s sad on so many levels.’
When asked if she has forgiven Harding for what happened, she said she doesn’t think about it, being a busy mom-of-three. But forgiven, she hasn’t.
‘I don’t know. I don’t think about it really. When I read transcripts from the FBI, they planned to kill me at one point. That was one of the options. To kill me over a sporting event. That’s crazy,’ she said.
‘There were all these other brutal options that they were thinking about doing to me. I’ve moved on i don’t think about it as forgiveness. I just hope she’s happy… and can be able to move on.