President Joe Biden Attacked With Comparison to Infamous Figure Skating Incident That Ruined 2-Time Olympic Medalist’s Career

Published 05/21/2022, 8:15 AM EDT

It has been 28 years since the assault of Nancy Kerrigan, which took place right before the 1994 US Figure Skating Championships. The incident turned figure skating into an absolute madhouse. It was the biggest scandal in the history of sport where Tonya Harding, Kerrigan’s rival, was accused and found guilty of trying to impede the competition through the attack. But what does President of the United States Joe Biden have to do with this?

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In a tweet, independent journalist Luke Rudkowski compared the state of the US economy under the term of President Joe Biden with Kerrigan’s assault.

What was the Kerrigan-Harding scandal?

In January 1994, Nancy Kerrigan was the favorite for the US Championships title. Her biggest competition for this event was compatriot Tonya Harding. In fact, the judges and fans alike expected the two ladies to be USA’s pick for the Lillehammer Winter Olympics in February. Kerrigan had a bronze from the previous Games, and Harding was the first American woman to land the triple axel.

During the afternoon on January 6th, Kerrigan had finished practicing for the championships at the Cobo Arena. A camera crew had recorded her walking off the ice but didn’t follow her after she went past the curtains. As she got off the ice and down the corridor, a man, later identified as Shane Stant, followed her, struck her lower right thigh, and walked away. Only after hearing her scream did the cameraman go after her.

The injury rendered Kerrigan unable to compete in the championships. Subsequently, the person who benefited most from her withdrawal, Harding, became the focus of the incident. Within days, the police arrested Harding’s then-husband Jeff Gillooly for orchestrating the assault. Along with him, three other men were arrested: co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt, assailant Shane Stant and his uncle, Derrick Smith. 

Gilooly had wanted to break her leg so she couldn’t participate in the Olympics. However, Stant failed to carry out his instructions and Kerrigan recovered by the time Lillehammer rolled around. Despite the injury, Kerrigan secured a silver medal. Meanwhile, Harding found trouble with her boot laces and didn’t manage to finish anywhere near the podium. The image of Harding with her boot propped up on the judges’ table is engraved into Olympic history.

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Tonya Harding found guilty

While at the beginning Harding denied any knowledge of the attack, she later pleaded guilty to assisting in covering up evidence of the assault in the aftermath. Reporters followed Tonya everywhere she went, dug through her trash, and even hid outside her house to get a statement.

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It remains unclear whether Harding had any knowledge prior to the attack. Her estranged ex-husband maintained that she not only knew of the attack but gave the green light to carry it out. A grand jury sentenced Harding to three years probation and a $100,000 fine. The US Figure Skating Association, unconvinced of her innocence, banned Harding for life.

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Many years later, in 2017, Hollywood released a movie called ‘I, Tonya’ starring Margot Robbie. The film showed Harding’s life as a figure skater and her perspective on the incident. It contested the blinded-by-ambition image painted by the media of her. Harding appeared for interviews for the film and the interest in the scandal reawakened. Notably, she stood strong on her original claim of innocence.

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Mansi Jain

377 articles

Mansi Jain is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Mass Communication from the University of Delhi and has also previously interned for HT Media. She is always one mention of Yuzuru Hanyu away from delivering an hour-long speech about the athlete's legacy.

Edited By: Melroy Fernandes

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