Kerrigan and Harding: 15 Years After the Attack

Kerrigan said she's focused on her kids, not her former rival Tonya Harding.

February 23, 2009, 10:57 PM

Feb. 24, 2009 — -- Fifteen years after she was involved in one of the most bizarre scandals in sports history, 39-year-old Nancy Kerrigan said she doesn't focus on the infamous incident that captured the world's attention because she is more concerned about being a good mother and wife.

"I just don't think back on all the negativity, because it's such a waste of time," the former Olympian said on "Good Morning America" today. "My life has moved on."

Kerrigan, who nabbed a bronze figure skating medal in Albertville, France, in 1992 and the silver prize in the 1994 Lillehammer, Norway, Olympic Games, focuses on her 8-month-old daughter, Nicole, and two sons, 12-year-old Matthew and 3-year-old Brian, with husband Jerry Solomon, her former agent.

"I'm so proud of myself. It's amazing now because I have a whole different life now," Kerrigan said.

Monday marked the official anniversary of the showdown between Kerrigan and rival Tonya Harding, whose husband was connected to the baton attack that threatened to derail Kerrigan's Olympic dreams and thrust the usually elegant sport of competitive figure skating into an ugly real-life drama that consumed the media and viewers.

It began six weeks before the 1994 winter Olympics when the then-25-year-old Kerrigan was a favorite to win the United States Figure Skating Championships in Detroit — the final pre-Olympic tournament.

But two days before the competition, an assailant appeared backstage brandishing a police baton and clubbed Kerrigan on her right knee.

The vicious attack forced her out of the competition. In her absence, Harding, a fierce competitor who was fighting for one last shot at Olympic glory, won the event. Suspicions grew about Harding's role in the attack.

Within a week, the FBI revealed that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was involved in the attack.

In the weeks leading up to the Olympics, Gillooly and three other men would plead guilty to their roles in Kerrigan's attack. Harding steadfastly denied having full knowledge of the plan before the incident, but did say that after it occurred she was responsible for failing to report things to the authorities.

Despite the scandal, Harding stayed on the team, and Kerrigan worked a very rigorous regimen to come back from her injury.

"I don't want somebody else to take away what I've worked so hard all these years for," Kerrigan said, describing her feelings as she tried to make a nearly impossible return in time for the competition.

She attributed her successful recovery in part to her parents.

"I'm very lucky for the influence my parents have on me to help me through such a thing," she said.

And when she was tapped to represent the United States at the Olympics, the stage was set for a skating showdown the whole world was anticipating.

Before hitting the ice, Harding was cocky, telling a group of reporters, "I'm going to kick her butt."

But the athletic skater had a subpar performance, marked by a broken lace that left Harding crying and pleading with the judges to give her another chance. It didn't help. Harding made a poor showing and finished in eighth place.

Meanwhile, the elegant Kerrigan skated almost flawlessly. She went from victim to victor, earning a silver medal. Russian skater Oksana Baiul ended up barely edging her out for the gold medal.

Kerrigan has experienced success after the Olympics. She became the nation's darling and started a foundation to distribute grants to nonprofit organizations that support the visually impaired. She also has hosted the Comcast Network show, ''Nancy Kerrigan's World of Skating,'' since 2005.

But Harding's transition to post-competitive life hasn't been as smooth as Kerrigan's. The United States Figure Skating Association banned the Oregon native for life from skating and she went on to have a mediocre career in boxing.

Harding has also garnered a Driving Under the Influence conviction, a charge of assaulting her second husband with a hubcap, and last year she released a memoir titled "The Tonya Tapes."

In an interview with HBO's "Real Sports" program, Harding seemed indignant over the continuing questions about her role in the Kerrigan plot.

"How much responsibility do you think I need to take? I've paid my debt to society, all right. I live an everyday life, trying to succeed in whatever I do, trying to keep a roof over my head," Harding said during the interview. "How much punishment do you think I need to go through?''

Kerrigan Has No Answer for Harding

Kerrigan said that she had no way to answer such a question and was only concerned about her own life and her three children.

"I have to look back at all the good stuff in my life," Kerrigan said. "I'm so thankful and grateful."

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