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Nancy Kerrigan assault was 20 years ago Monday

Twenty years ago today, Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked leaving practice by an associate of her main rival, Tonya Harding.

By Gabrielle Levy
Nancy Kerrigan assault was 20 years ago Monday
Nancy Kerrigan in 1995. UPI Larry Burton | License Photo

Twenty years have passed since a man approached Nancy Kerrigan outside a skating arena in Detroit and clubbed her in the knee with a metal police baton.

The Jan. 6, 1994 incident, later discovered to have been carried out by a friend fellow figure skater Tonya Harding's ex-husband, forced Kerrigan out of the national championships the next week and spawning weeks of intrigue ahead of the Winter Olympics in Norway.

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Harding went on to win the national championship, but while she and Kerrigan were both chosen to compete on the U.S. Olympic team, it was Kerrigan who walked away with a medal, bruised knee and all.

"I really don't look back unless someone asks me to look back, and then I have to," Kerrigan said, recalling the events of the scandal two decades ago. "Otherwise, why would I? I was attacked."

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Kerrigan, 44, now lives in Boston with her husband and children, living but a quiet but successful life of endorsements, skating shows and corporate appearances.

Harding, whose histrionics and disappointing eighth-place finish at the 1994 Olympics helped turn the scandal into a soap opera, has retired to rural Oregon with her husband and 2-year-old son. She occasionally joins her husband for wood-working projects.

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"It was 20 years ago and I don't remember lots and lots of it," Harding said. "I know it was a horrible time for everyone involved. It was a bad streak, going through all the crud, and I was able to rise above it. I think Nancy and I have good lives now."

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At the time, Harding said she was completely unaware of a plot to take her rival out of the competition. But she later admitted she knew what her former husband, Jeff Gillooly and his friends had in mind, and had failed to try to stop them.

She pleaded guilty to felony hindering of the prosecution and was slapped with $160,000 in fines, was stripped of her national title and permanently banned from the sport.

"When we read the transcripts of the 10 hours of depositions they gave, you did have to laugh," Kerrigan said, of the incident that turned her life upside down. "You laugh in thankfulness that they were not as good at being bad guys as they had wanted to be. It all sounds ridiculous, which does make you laugh."

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[USA Today]

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