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Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan at the 1992 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Orlando, Fla. (AP)

In Ice Skating's Biggest Story, The Media Were Poor Sports

Jan 22, 2014 (Morning Edition)

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It's difficult to understand why certain athletes are harshly singled out by the media, but one of the most baffling examples has to be the criticism displayed toward figure skater Nancy Kerrigan after she was clubbed in the leg at a practice session just weeks before the 1994 Olympics.

The ex-husband of another member of the U.S. women's team, Tonya Harding, was convicted of arranging the attack. Harding herself was fined and banned from the sport.

As incredible as the physical attack on Kerrigan was, even more astounding was how little sympathy she got, and how Harding, who benefited from the assault, herself came to be something of a folk hero. The assault became the punchline of late-night TV comics, and Kerrigan, who'd barely missed the gold in Lillehammer, Norway, was dismissed as too plastic — a snooty ice princess — despite an incredibly gritty rehabilitation after the attack.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.


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