Tension between figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan started weeks before the 1994 Winter Olympic Games were scheduled to begin in Lillehammer, Norway.
On January 6th, Kerrigan had just completed a practice session when she was vicioulsy attacked by a hitman named Shane Stant. The assailant fled the scene, but video footage of Kerrigan crying and asking, “Why? Why me?” was later leaked to the public.
Everyone was quick to point fingers at her rival, Tonya Harding, for being the behind the attack that almost knocked Kerrigan out of the competition. Harding denied the allegations, but investigators later confirmed that in addition to Stant, Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly and bodyguard, Shawn Eric Eckardt, were responsible for "the whack heard around the world," as the media often dubbed it.
In exchange for a lighter sentence, Gillooly testified against Harding. She then pleaded guilty and was placed on a three-year probation plus 500 hours of community service. She also received a $100,000 fine, and was banned from the USFA for life.
However, depending on who you ask, Harding's punishment came much earlier.
In what could be touted as karma, Harding came in eighth place and missed the podium after a mishap occurred on the ice: her skate lace broke and she wasn’t allowed a redo. Kerrigan, on the other hand, took home the silver medal.
Now, 23 years since the scandal, Harding is back in the spotlight thanks to the new biopic I, Tonya, which shies away from painting the disgraced skater as a villain. The renewed public interest in the story prompted one of the Olympic judges to share her recollection of the famous broken lace incident. Audrey Williams, now 85, also opened up about her feelings towards Harding in the interview with Cosmopolitan.