Tonya Harding is one a rare few female figure skaters to EVER do a triple axel. The second is Michelle Kwan. That's something for her to be proud of. In the skating world, that is, indeed, a feat.So, what went wrong in Tonya's life? She is the trailer trash of celebs these days, with more run-ins with the law than most. Her downfall began, probably right after she was born in Oregon, the home of hippies and tree huggers. But, we don't think that's what did it to her. Many skaters have no life when they are young. Their time is spent at the rink, learning how to be Olympic skaters. For Tonya Harding, her successes began to show in the 1980's. Tonya was born in 1970, so she was a sweet young thang and already beginning her climb up the competitive ladder. Looking back at the rise and fall of Tonya Harding, it's not hard to think about a few moments of her life that stand out. Twelve years ago, she could have been America's princess. It was a time when it was OK to be a figure skater and not appear to still going through puberty. Back then, in fact, the competitors were adult enough to have each other clubbed in the knees with pipes. Things were simpler then. But, twelve years since she went mafia on Nancy Kerrigan's knee have not been kind to America's darling of the ice. Talk about big time made for television event. How big was it? Women’s figure skating in 1994 is the sixth most watched television event in history. To give you some perspective, at the top is the finale of M*A*S*H, an episode of Roots, a couple Super Bowls, then it’s women’s figure skating. It was Jerry Springer on ice. It all started in January of 1994, during the Olympic trials. Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man wielding a blunt object after a practice this afternoon at the U.S. Olympic trials. Kerrigan was hit on the outside of her right knee by the assailant, who ran toward her moments after she left the ice at Cobo Arena downtown, then escaped from the building as Kerrigan fell to the ground. Turns out, Harding was behind the whole thing, which included her bodyguard and ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. Gilooly pleads guilty, eventually, but the damage to Harding is complete. She is stripped of her 1994 National Championship and is barred from the organisation for life. Gilooly is sentenced to two years. Skating life over for Harding.
Tonya hasn’t had it easy since the scandal that rocked the world on ice. She’s had a long run-in list with the law. She even had her wedding night sex tape leaked. This way before the internet was huge, so it saved thousands of horny curious boys from being scarred for life. Jeff Gillooly's autobiographical account of his 1990 wedding night with wife Tonya Harding. Gillooly captures the chilling chemistry between the couple who plotted to injure Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan. Much like Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde, the chillingness of their crimes is juxtaposed with the heat of their sexuality. Gillooly's directorial style is free flowing, letting his co-star improvise. He understands the camera is a voyeur and sets the film in a small claustrophobic room. Most directors might have shown the room dark and awash in shadow to symbolize the dark lives of the two lovers. The genius of Gillooly is that he awashes the room in bright light, letting the couple's creamy white bodies gleam in an almost heavenly glow. This is not the story of their sordid criminal activities, this is the story of their love and their love making. 5'-1" Tonya Harding clothed reminds me of an angry Sally Field, a tiny bulldog, strong, barking, and scary if not chained. But as Tonya strips for the camera, we see she is vulnerable, coy, cute, and fun loving. This is not an empty headed sex kitten, this is a complex woman willing to show us her feelings as well as her body. Gillooly pushes the envelope in his first documentary featurette by showing us full frontal nudity of both Tonya and himself. This bold move is so truthful we really feel for the ill-fated couple. And Tonya Harding is cute. Nude, she looks a bit like Sally Field in her nude scenes in Stay Hungry and perhaps she will have a career someday to match. Interestingly enough, the so called wedding outfit was really a Halloween costume; but, the tape is forever known as the 'wedding night sex video'. Harding tried to distance herself from the tape by asserting that she was 'drunk as a skunk' while the tape was being made. About the tape, Tonya says: "It's an image that the media has given me as a bad girl, and the only reason they gave me that image is just because of the few things that have gone wrong in my life, and also because I grew up living in a trailer." Today, she's sitting around thinking, "I'd totally release another sex tape if I thought I could get back into that kind of shape."
Harding has had a number of run-ins with the law since her involvement with the Kerrigan attack. Some of the incidents which have been reported in the press include:
-- On May 25, 1995, it was reported that Harding claimed she was being stalked by professional golfers driving a white Lincoln Town Car, resulting in a car chase involving Harding, her ex-husband Gillooly, and the police.
-- On February 12, 1997, Harding claimed that she was abducted at knife-point outside her home by a bushy-haired man who forced her to drive to a rural area, where she rammed her truck into a tree and escaped by running into the woods. Police found no evidence of an abduction. This incident happened on the opening weekend of the 1997 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
-- On October 16, 1997, Harding reported that her truck had been stolen from a shopping mall parking lot.
-- On January 6, 2000, six years to the day after the attack on Kerrigan, Harding was in the news again after she lost control of her truck on an icy road and landed in a ditch. She and a male companion then allegedly made threats against a press photographer.
-- On February 24, 2000, Harding was ordered by a Clark County judge to stay away from alcohol and her former boyfriend, Darren Silver, after being booked on fourth-degree Domestic Violence assault charges for punching Silver and throwing a hubcap at him at their Camas, Washington residence. Harding was also sentenced to 3 days in jail and 10 days of community service on a work crew. Shortly before this, Harding had been attempting to make a comeback as a professional skater, but the hubcap incident effectively put an end to her skating career.
-- On April 20, 2002, Harding was involved in another accident with her truck. She was cited for drunk driving and a violation of her probation agreement from her 2000 conviction.
-- On October 23, 2005, Harding, apparently again under the influence of alcohol, was involved in a fight at her home in Vancouver, Washington with Christopher Nolan, a man she described as her boyfriend. Initially, she made a 911 call claiming to have been assaulted in her home by two masked men. For his part, Nolan claimed that Harding attacked him after having too much to drink. In the end, Nolan was charged with assault and ordered to stay away from Harding and to avoid alcohol.
Then’s she’s had a less than stellar boxing career. Most would remember her fight with Paula Jones in “Celebrity Boxing Match”. She was scheduled to make an appearance in a March 11 Jacksonville, FL boxing event called “Guns and Hoses”. The annual boxing event between Jacksonville firefighters and police officers was to have Tonya Harding take on one of Jacksonville’s finest, Officer Cristina “Rosie” Rosario. She cancelled because she’s technically a heavyweight now, weighing in at 170 pounds. That’s too heavy for the First Coast bouts. She was big news in 1994 at the Olympics. Now she’s just big. Here is a quote from Charles Barkley (retired basketball star) regarding Tonya : I heard Tonya Harding is calling herself the Charles Barkley of figure skating. I was going to sue her for defamation of character, but then I realized I have no character. Funny how karma works sometimes.
The story of Tonya is fascinating to those of us who love to watch the mighty fall and we're not talking about taking a spill on the ice, are we? No. We all have a need to see others descend into misery, especially when they tantrum their way down the ladder of success, using nefarious tactics to further careers. The one noteworthy period of Tonya's life has got to be her 'wedding night video'. You're going to want to see this. And why shouldn't you? We think you've got every reason to peek into the life and love life of a former skating diva, now a heavyweight female boxer. Life is luscious for us when there's all that good stuff to download and keep forever on your computer. Don't wait another moment. Go get Tonya!