The girl in the golden skates.

It’s only a local story now, but I don’t want to let another day pass without noting that yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the Nancy Kerrigan knee-whacking by agents of fellow figure skater Tonya Harding. It happened in Detroit. (Natch!) The national championships were at Cobo Hall that year, prior to the Olympic Games in Lillehammer. Just to recap:

I know it’s uncharitable of me, but in the fullness of time, I’ve come to terms with my dislike of Nancy Kerrigan. Not that I was on Team Tonya or anything, but Kerrigan, with her sense of regal entitlement, just chapped my ass. A beautiful girl, a fine skater, but her snitty display after she missed winning the gold medal to that pixie in pink fluff, Oksana Baiul, sealed the deal. “I was flawless,” she pouted, perhaps the original #firstworldproblems complaint.

(May I just pause for a moment and demand that you click the Oksana Baiul link and watch the ENTIRE slider? You must. We’ll wait.)

Granted, by her biography, Kerrigan seems a straight shooter. She’s been married to her agent for years, has three children, works for charity, pays her taxes. And to be sure, being kneecapped and subsequently under a relentless spotlight could push anyone off the rails, and she stayed on them. Harding, on the other hand, never even came close to fulfilling the promise that made her a serious threat to toothy Nancy. Her gold skates always reminded me of the gold trim packages that were popular on cars around the same time — very big-pimpin’ ghetto fabulous.

But I’ll admit to being blindsided by her popularity with working-class people. My friend Deb once overheard a couple of women from the Harding demographic expressing great admiration for the scrappy triple-axel jumper, adding, “I cannot STAND that Kristi Yamaguchi.” People who’ve been screwed over tend to remember who did the screwing, and many of them looked like the ethereal, unflappable ice queens we watch every four years. When Harding asked for a do-over during her long program I knew she was toast; the Kristis and Nancys of the world don’t break their laces in competition.

Years later, Harding would be arrested — what a surprise — for assaulting her husband with a hubcap. Alan and I were in the car when this news was reported, and the DJ puzzled aloud for some time about the strangeness of the weapon. A hubcap? Really? Finally, Alan snapped at the radio: IT WAS AN ASHTRAY, YOU IDIOT. Indeed.

The years haven’t been kind to Harding, but we all could have predicted that. Kerrigan, on the other hand? Still a great looker.

So. The polar vortex is still howling outside, and Kate has a second day off school, nearly unprecedented here. If you do, too, here’s some bloggage:

First, a story that may be of interest to Jeff the mild-mannered, from Bridge, about a growing pushback to zero-tolerance disciplinary policies in public schools. It includes this nod to mediation, i.e., “restorative justice:”

Under this approach, a trained mediator convenes a group that includes the offending student, the teacher, those harmed in the incident and the parents or siblings of the student. The idea is to encourage students to accept responsibility for their actions and learn from the experience.

“Kids have to come face-to-face with the people they harmed. This is aligned with conventional discipline,” he said.

Sower said it has proven to reduce suspensions and expulsions, but is only being used in a handful of Michigan districts.

It’s a good story, as is the sidebar, about a kid caught in this Kafkaesque whirl.

More sneer worthy is this piece from the Atlantic, where former GOP strategist Frank Luntz calmly measures out the rope and then hangs himself. He’s depressed, see, and has been since the 2012 election:

It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him. They were contentious and argumentative. They didn’t listen to each other as they once had. They weren’t interested in hearing other points of view. They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor.

…Luntz knew that he, a maker of political messages and attacks and advertisements, had helped create this negativity, and it haunted him. But it was Obama he principally blamed. The people in his focus groups, he perceived, had absorbed the president’s message of class divisions, haves and have-nots, of redistribution. It was a message Luntz believed to be profoundly wrong, but one so powerful he had no slogans, no arguments with which to beat it back. In reelecting Obama, the people had spoken. And the people, he believed, were wrong. Having spent his career telling politicians what the people wanted to hear, Luntz now believed the people had been corrupted and were beyond saving. Obama had ruined the electorate, set them at each other’s throats, and there was no way to turn back.

Luntz is dealing with his depression by moving to Las Vegas, where he expects to be “intellectually challenged” again. I just sprained my eyeballs.

With that, I guess we’re back in the groove. Happy Tuesday, all, and let’s get this new year rolling.

Posted at 12:30 am in Current events |

33 responses to “The girl in the golden skates.”

  1. Sherri said on January 7, 2014 at 12:59 am

    Las Vegas seems like the perfect place for Frank Luntz. But here’s the quote that sums up the thing I don’t understand about people like Luntz:

    “You should not expect a handout,” he tells me. “You should not even expect a safety net. When my house burns down, I should not go to the government to rebuild it. I should have the savings, and if I don’t, my neighbors should pitch in for me, because I would do that for them.”

    They seem to think that government is some thing that exists independent of the people. Government is your neighbor, my friend.

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  2. Linda said on January 7, 2014 at 1:32 am

    Sherri, Luntz believes people shouldn’t be “forced” to cooperate and help others. They should just do it out of some inner wellspring, without the state. Of course, nobody should have to support the military from voluntary contributions, but That’s Different. Blowing stuff up is important, while keeping people from starving is optional. Don’t ever believe that anybody in the world really believes in small government. It usually means that the part they want to pare down is unimportant, but the stuff they support is vital. For instance, a government too small to stop security fraud is good, but a government too small to stop abortion is a tragedy.

    I know lots of conservatives who are depressed now. They are having a hard time with the realization that they do not, in fact, own the United States and have to share it with a lot of riffraff, and that their worldview is slowly fading away as the default mode for American thinking. It has to be as big a bummer as good Soviet apparatchik felt when they realized they were now living in Russia.

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  3. Dexter said on January 7, 2014 at 4:36 am

    I remember the day so clearly, working the afternoon/evening shift, I was wearing my Walkman and listening to 89.1 , NPR. Nancy Kerrigan had been attacked at Cobo Hall by a thug with a club, just whacked hard on the knee. It was the lead-in story at 5:00. Nancy was crying “Why, why?”, and I never understood how that was translated as some kind of rich-person’s egotistical pathetic whine. She was training for the fucking Olympics, right? My sixth grade teacher and later my phys-ed teacher and junior varsity basketball coach was Larry Dove. In Olympic trials, this BGSU track star missed a trip to Rome by a hair in the 800 meter dash. Just the narrowest , tiniest shortfall kept him away from Rome. He would mention this a few times, matter-of-factly, but we all kind of knew he thought of this quite a bit, maybe thinking “if only…” with many finishes to that thought.
    Kerrigan didn’t have time to sort it all out, for no good reason this bastard from Tonya Harding’s camp busted up her knee, “why?” indeed. It all shook out.
    My first wife , whom I have not seen in about 38 years, was a dead-ringer for Tonya Harding , the young skating Tonya. So that’s how women with that complexion and body structure turn out. Oh well. I doubt my #1 spouse got fat…she had a fool-proof way to lose weight. If she put on five pounds, she would eat nothing but carrot sticks, drink only water, until the weight was gone. What the hell, it worked for her.

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  4. David C. said on January 7, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Luntz has his knickers in a knot because finally something close to a majority are seeing that when we do as he think we should, things become fucked-up and bullshit. Somehow, I think the extent of him helping his neighbors would be a crocodile tear and “I’ll be praying for you”.

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  5. Pam (the sister) said on January 7, 2014 at 7:34 am

    I saw that Luntz article yesterday and was just astonished when I read it. The incredible Arrogance of that man. What bothers me about the Luntz’s of the world is their “my way or the highway” worldview. Yet they have the audacity to claim that to be the fault of those who don’t agree with them. To quote Nancy, “You Fucker!”

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  6. coozledad said on January 7, 2014 at 8:43 am

    “Spaghetti Bolognese”, Coke Zero, 14,000 sq ft. house, 85 inch television?

    White trash runs bone deep. Can’t educate it away, or chase it away with money.

    Another one of their monkeys says he wants to move the capitol to Nebraska. He was assistant secretary at HHS under Bush II.

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  7. beb said on January 7, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Fate may have not been kind to Tonya Harding, though I don’t think she looks all that heavy, but TruTV certainly as not been kind to her. She one of the celebrity panelists on their World’s Dumbest series, and usually portrayed as the panelist who can’t get her lines right.

    The paragraphs from the Frank Luntz article that Nancy quotes reveals a surreal mindset, either of Luntz or the article’s writer. The president didn’t coin the concept of Two Americas, that goes back decades to the Republican division of America into Real Americans and “them.” All Obama has done, and John Edwards before him, is point out is that the “Real Americans seem to have everything and the “them” have nothing.

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  8. Julie Robinson said on January 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    The Nancy/Tonya story, like most portrayed in the national media, is far more nuanced than a cursory reading would suggest. Nancy Kerrigan also comes from working class roots, the only daughter in a large family, and as young child more comfortable on hockey skates. In early interviews she has a strong Boston accent and tomboy appearance. Her ethereal image was carefully crafted by her coaches, as well as that of the loving daughter caring for her legally blind mother. No performance was complete without the cameras showing her mother sitting six inches from a TV screen, trying to catch the moving shadows that were her daughter.

    That agent husband? When they got together he was married to someone else. And in recent years the family has been rocked by the tragic death of her dad, who suffered a heart attack after arguing with her brother Mark, who had substance abuse problems.

    During her reign as golden girl as the first US woman to land a triple axel, Tonya’s background was shown as something she had bravely overcome. Skating is very expensive, so there was some accuracy there. The poor thing also suffered from asthma, and had to grab her inhaler the second she came off the ice. Somehow the cameras never showed her ducking out back for a smoke.

    And there, as Paul Harvey would say, is the rest of the story. Or at least a few of the juicy details.

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  9. Julie Robinson said on January 7, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I have no idea why that posted twice, I only hit the submit button once.

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  10. nancy said on January 7, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I had the same thought about the spaghetti bolognese, Cooz. In other words, he opens a jar of Ragu. Check.

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  11. coozledad said on January 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

    One of the commenters at Wonkette called it “The Chris Christie breakfast”.

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  12. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 7, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I just hated the whole story twenty years ago because the ex-husband and plotter to help Tonya Harding is named Jeff Gillooly, which is just one “ooly” away from my full name . . . and it still pops up on websearches when my name is involved, and I can’t even ice skate.

    Nancy, thanks for the link, which I’ll be sharing around with my cohorts here in Ohio. This begins my eighth year as a mediator with the juvenile court, and whether you call it “restorative justice”, “alternative dispute resolution” (the state’s preferred caption), or just “mediation”, it’s a very effective tool — if you can get parties to participate. And I very much appreciate the principal admitting his resistance. Victims and offenders both tend to be very interested in a non-judicial option, but it is often the cops, fire chiefs, principals & superintendents who are digging in their heels. They want and think that a firm line delivered sternly by an authority figure should be sufficient, and if it isn’t, something punitive is the only reasonable next step. Never mind that we have plenty of evidence that it’s not always (often, ever?) the approach that gets people to change behavior, it’s the model they know and are comfortable with, and they want it, not this d4mn touchy-feely stuff.

    Our probate-juvenile judge is a mensch, and he and the court administrator have supported mediation even though there’s no state mandate for it, and hence no funding stream behind it. When I started, mediation was in a couple dozen counties in Ohio, say 22-26 of the 86 jurisdictions across our 88 counties, with twice a year meetings to consult and collaborate. Today, the state office is shuttered, the meetings don’t happen, and there are less than a dozen official mediation programs.

    Domestic court mediation is a different creature, and that niche tends to be filled by lawyers looking for a new way to capture clients; not to be totally cynical, but most court-ordered mediation on custody & support is just a hearing with a modicum of mutual desire to get it done, save money, and enough initial agreement to get through to an agreement on details. If there’s a highly positional party, they go back to the magistrate. Anyhow, I stay out of that, except to the degree that juvenile mediations often involve parental fights over visitation & payments being expressed through other means. Just to manage caseloads, magistrates in DC usually require the couple try mediation, and give them a list of people who have the required training who do domestics, which runs them $200 an hour or so. Enough hungry lawyers have done both pieces of training and will do it for $50 an hour that everyone can at least take a crack at a non-judicial agreement.

    What we do at the JC is take referrals from the county prosecutor, from probation & diversion officers, and from school administrators and/or the county or district attendance officers, then put the parties into a room and do mediation from there, or a “family conferencing” with a counselor/psychologist present. There are a few buildings that have had one or both of us come in to train students in peer mediation/peace circles/restorative tools, but not as many as I’d wish. It’s up to the district and building administrator, and as I said, many of them don’t get it, and just aren’t interested, so hat tip to those folks up north for taking the plunge. Restorative justice works, and I’m happy to talk to anyone who is trying to implement it wherever they are, juvenile courts, schools, community centers, whatever.

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  13. Jenine said on January 7, 2014 at 9:48 am

    Have to pop in and give some love for the Oksana Baiul link. I am so glad I saw that online billboard to Oksana’s sense of the dramatic. The geisha wig is a hoot. She is a true ice dancer.

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  14. Julie Robinson said on January 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

    BTW, Oksana Baiul has also had a very difficult path since her OGM, most of it self-inflicted.

    Ex-CIA agent John Rizzo has written a book in which he says waterboarding wasn’t torture, just an “enhanced interrogation technique”.

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  15. Scout said on January 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I always thought Nancy Kerrigan had that Kate Hepburn appeal for people. I liked her. Julie, thank you for the behind the scenes refresher – I had forgotten most of that.

    Frank Fucking Luntz is a fucking fucker who can go fuck himself.

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  16. brian stouder said on January 7, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Waterboarding isn’t torture, but affordable healthcare – provided by private, profitable insurance companies – is TYRANNY!!!

    or –

    Waterboarding isn’t torture, but official recognition of marriages of same-gender people will COMPLETELY DESTROY AMERICA!!


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  17. coozledad said on January 7, 2014 at 10:29 am

    There’s no better career development path for Republicans than torture training, unless it’s baby slapping or black teenager shooting.

    Where else is that novitiate going to experience the frisson of absolute control over another being? Stiffing a wait?

    Alan Wests aren’t made in restaurants, bud.

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  18. Bitter Scribe said on January 7, 2014 at 11:10 am

    The last time I saw Tonya Harding, she was whupping Paula Jones’s ass on Celebrity Boxing. I mean just killing her. It was pathetic. Poor Paula was trying to make a “T” signal with those oversize gloves, unaware that, as one of the announcers said, “There are no timeouts in boxing.”

    That same “card” also had Olga Korbut, Robert Van Winkle (aka Vanilla Ice), and Darla Conger, the one who Wanted to Marry a Millionaire. I don’t remember how they did.

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  19. LAMary said on January 7, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Speaking of Vanilla Ice, Jimmy Fallon had a list of things people sent to #worstchristmasgift. My favorite on the list was some guy who had received a boxed DVD set of Vanilla Ice: On Tour in Turkey.

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on January 7, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Ice ice baby.

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  21. Sherri said on January 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Joan Ryan wrote an interesting book about what it takes to compete at the Olympic level for female gymnasts and figure skaters: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.

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  22. brian stouder said on January 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    A non-sequitur…or possibly this does fall in line, as it deals with a celebrity flame-out (of sorts)

    So this is the latest little tempest in a teapot (or bong – but who knows?) from good ol’ Charlie Sheen

    But the thing in this run-of-the-mill bit of frippery that caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks is the funny photo of Woody Allen from Take the Money and Run.

    It looks for all the world to me as if the mugshot says “Ft Wayne” on it!

    I guess I’m always the very last to know anything, eh?

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  23. Dexter said on January 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I saw Vanila Ice mere hours ago on all-night TV. He’s a big-time house renovator with his own TV show. His crew will gut your house to the beams and studs and build you a palace.

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  24. paddyo' said on January 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    BTW, did anyone look at the comments at the bottom of the “still a great looker” link that our Nancy shared? Granted, only three — but two out of three apparently still hate Kerrigan’s guts, and with two decades’ worth of gusto.
    The whole episode seems today like a mirror, in an off-kilter sort of way, for the present political divide. Red skate, blue skate, anyone?
    Thanks to Julie for the additional context. At the time of the shin-banging, I was married to an amateur figure skater (she was sort of living out some of a girlhood dream denied when her parents split up). There was plenty of poring over the details of the rivalry at our house and at the rink.
    In hindsight, maybe Nancy and Tonya were wearing the wrong skates. The whole affair had a certain roller-derby quality, didn’t it . . .

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  25. Deborah said on January 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    A friend of mine who taught graphic design at Washington University in St. Louis had his students design a timeline of the events surrounding the Harding/Kerrigan incident. They were some of the best examples of good graphic information design I’ve ever seen. Even better than a lot of the stuff I see in the NYT, which is pretty damn good.

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  26. Julie Robinson said on January 7, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Having such a broad knowledge of figure skating isn’t exactly something to be proud of, but I continue to love the sport for its combination of athleticism , music and theater. Though the new judging system has robbed it of much of its beauty, the occasional skater breaks through, and I’ll be glued to the TV this weekend for Nationals.

    And speaking of breaking through, I borrowed my hubby’s knee high boots to fill the bird feeder and went through some drifts that were easily a couple of feet high, which filled the boots with snow. It’s impressive.

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  27. JMG said on January 7, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Dear Ms. Nall. As a Massachusetts resident with some knowledge of the figure skating world here, I think I should note that Kerrigan wasn’t so much an entitled princess back then as simply sheltered to where ignorance and stupidity blur together. The poor kid had no knowledge of the world beyond making little circles in the ice, and knowing how to act as a world superstar was far, far beyond her powers.

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  28. FDChief said on January 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Tonya is an odd sort of celebrity out here in her home state; many Oregonians have a sort of schadenfreude for her She’s the uncle who turned out to be a high-rolling embezzler or the aunt who turned out to be a grand horizontal; awful, yes, but a bit of a poke in the eye for all those entitled and serene.

    What I recall, though, was how completely and utterly she reminded me of the people I knew who came from the same parts of Clackamas County she did. These were people who were just accidents waiting to happen, a deadly combination of barely-bright, poorly-educated, indisciplined-and-almost-undisciplinable shit magnets. “Bad stuff” just “happened” to them; car wrecks, arrests, lost jobs, lost husbands and wives. Tonya was a kind of patron saint for those people. She WAS them, just a little bigger, a little sparklier, a little better known.

    But then Nancy got dragged into TonyaWorld and it had a nasty effect on her, too. The little hints of self-pity became a full-blown hissyfit after the loss to Baiul. I think the final nail in her PR coffin was when she was caught pissing and moaning about the indignity of having to appear at some event at Disneyland. The revelation that she had been screwing around with her then-manager was, by that time, not exactly an image-breaker; she had been pretty well exposed as someone who was her own biggest fan, somebody whose sense of entitlement was pretty damn immense.

    So a pretty sordid little tale for everyone. At least we got Oksana-the-skating-geisha out of it or the whole magilla’d be pretty much a dead loss…

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  29. BigHank53 said on January 8, 2014 at 6:15 am

    The actual comment that Nancy Kerrigan made about her Disneyland appearance was “This is the corniest thing I’ve ever done.” I believe it was made while in a parade, riding in a convertible with Mickey Mouse. That would have to come up on my list as the corniest thing, too.

    Even at the time I was taken aback at the fury this provoked. I don’t know how much of it was from people who didn’t want to believe that Mickey is really a four foot ten inch actor wearing a fiberglass head, and how much of it was from people who couldn’t stand a female ice skater that didn’t just look pretty and simper.

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  30. MM said on January 8, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    I saw Frank Luntz on a panel at the NY Public Library back in 2007

    The programs take place in a large room with a small stage and after they are over the panelists usually stand around and talk to members of the audience and/or sign their books. I overheard Frank Luntz telling somebody whose book he was signing that he was surprised at the reception that he got and he hadn’t expected it to be so civil [here in the heart of liberal America I suppose].

    George Soros was on one of the panels and stayed on in the audience to see the others.

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  31. Anonymous said on June 3, 2016 at 12:59 am

    I don’t see how anyone could lie to themselves and calle Nancy Kerrigan “sheltered or innocent” in those days. She had rode the world wind of Olympic fame from the previous 1992 Olympics. She’d cashed in winning the endorsement sweepstakes. She lived in a very big mansion in Stoneham away from her parents and had been involved in a few famous relationships BEFORE she took up with a married man, who happened to be her agent. Not only that, Nancy Kerrigan at the time was a college graduate. “Very sheltered and ignorant” were not the words to truthfully describe Ms. Kerrigan. Spoiled and entitled are more befitting. Her coach even admitted that because of all the attention Nancy received for her beauty and not her skating she had developed a nasty “attitude” towards him. This rang true when she made such snide statements during her brief professional career “I’m making $395,000 for every appearance fee so this doesn’t matter to me. Kerrigan spoke with her nose in the air. Back then she was shockingly arrogant and very self entitled. She declared herself “flawless” accused the judges of cheating her out of gold and bashed everyone and everything not named Kerrigan. Really snobby, spoiled, entitled, rude and arrogant. A mean, hot tempered diva—- was Miss Nancy Ann Kerrigan. That’s who she really was and it came as a shock to many after being told how nice Nancy was. What lies. Despite that, the media and her p.r team had made her out to be this pristine, good natured, girl next door that was just “one of the girls.” Wrong. Typical that her minions would be here after 20 years describing Baiul as a mentally ill straight jacketed, psychotic or a skid row drunk simply because she takes legal action to right the wrongs done to her. Oksana is a normal person who has had to fight for what she has earned. She is a hard worker who has often been purposely & wrongly mischaracterized by people who hate her. Oksana has had to live with strangers and has been cruelly, cheated, deceieved and abused by people from an early age. She is a fighter and survivor. Nothing has ever come easy for Oksana Baiul but she keeps her sense of humor and is the kind of person with who you can still enjoy a laugh at the end of the day. She and Nancy are complete opposites. Its true Kerrigan has always been protected by a strong family unit Oksana has never had family life or the protection of family. I know Oksana is a tough survivor since my mother lived a harsh life where she had to live with different people all the time. Its brutally tough and since Oksana has come through it like my mother she is a fighter & survivor who is very hardworking. People who attack her sit in their comfortable, sheltered lives passing judgment bitter because they are weak and unable to prevail over life’s storms.

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  32. Anonymous said on June 3, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Nancy didn’t deserve to be whacked in the kneecap. Harding had no credibility. Oksana Baiul was the one who exposed Nancy Kerrigan as missing the mark–not Tonya Harding. Nancy Kerrigan has no reason to be kind or loving toward Ms. Harding however, she does these appearances and interviews with Harding because Kerrigan wants to be famous. Doing these interviews also proves Kerrigan has no integrity. So much that, she would link herself to her attacker something she swore she would never do. Nancy, give that a rest. Tonya Harding never admits and never will admit to her wrong doing. It would be more productive if Nancy appeared in a sit down interview with Oksana Baiul where she can has out her hostilities. Oksana Baiul, winning the gold medal and going on to become more famous than Nancy Kerrigan and having the bigger career in America is a bone of contention with Kerrigan-Solomon. Nancy Kerrigan probably still harbors resentment toward Oksana Baiul like much of her fans. Nancy Kerrigan owes Oksana Baiul an apology for working behind the scenes to ruin Oksana’s career and life. Oksana keep going and was the same fighter in life that she was on the ice. Nancy is a schemer. But now its time to put all the lies and bitterness behind. Kerrigan-Solomon needs to come clean, same as Yamaguchi.

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  33. Anonymous said on June 3, 2016 at 1:14 am

    The real story of these women would make a hell of a feature film.

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