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20 Years Since The “Whack Heard Around The World” [VIDEO]

The 2014 Winter Olympics In Sochi, Russia are just around the corner. The lead up to these games pail in comparison to what was happening in the world of United States Figure Skating just before the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The “whack heard around the world” involving Nancy Kerrigan being attacked on Jan. 6, 1994 when leaving Detroit’s Cobo Arena is one of the most bizarre and ridiculous soap operas ever to play out in sports.

Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of Kerrigan being attacked and involvement of rival skater Tonya Harding. The two former U.S. Olympic teammates, now in their 40s, talked to USA TODAY about the attack, which involved Harding’s ex-husband conspiring with two other men to club Kerrigan on her knee with a crowbar during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. “The Whack” turned ridiculous, in large part because of Harding’s melodramatic acting, building to a stunning finish at the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, leaving us with the world’s most famous bruised knee and the sixth-highest rated television show in U.S. history.

Nearly half the nation watched the women’s short program Feb. 23, 1994, featuring both Tonya and Nancy. The huge audience tuned in even though most fans already knew the results from listening live on the radio (yes, there was a live national radio broadcast of figure skating that day)

Figure skating hasn’t been the same since. For several years, the sport boomed in the wake of the monumental Olympic TV ratings, with tours crisscrossing the continent and made-for-TV competitions and specials airing all the time. Figure skating is been slumping in popularity ever since.

The epic Tonya-Nancy soap opera was unlike any the nation had seen to that point, coming five months before the O.J. Simpson story and years ahead of reality TV. It was alfter all a simple sports event. Kerrigan recovered to win the 1994 Olympic silver medal while Harding’s skate lace broke in a series of misadventures leading to a disappointing eighth-place finish and a bunch of crying and terrible acting. Nancy Kerrigan now lives in Boston with her three children and her husband, agent Jerry Solomon. Harding, who is married now to a different guy, thank god, with a nearly 3-year-old son, lives in rural central Oregon, where she joins her husband on his occasional woodworking jobs.

 

 

 

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