Former figure skater and Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan spoke out in an interview this week with ABC News about being attacked back in 1994 as she left the ice following practice one day. Kerrigan told Nightline anchor JuJu Chang that in all of the years since the attack, which made global headlines at the time, she’s never received a direct apology from her Team USA teammate and rival Tonya Harding.
An unidentified assailant ran up to Kerrigan rinkside, slammed her on the right knee with a baton and then darted away. TV cameras captured the tense moments after the attack. Kerrigan was sitting on the floor clutching her leg, crying out, “Why? Why?” as people tended to her.
“People made such a big deal and almost, like, complaining, like, why would I say that?” Kerrigan said in the interview. “Well, after getting attacked, you don’t know what you’re going to say. But I think it’s a reasonable question. Like, ‘Why did this just happen? What happened? Like, why?’” Kerrigan said it’s sad to look at that video today because she almost doesn’t even recognize herself in that difficult moment.
Eventually it was discovered that Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, had hired a thug to carry out the attack on Kerrigan in a bid to prevent her from making the Olympic team. Harding maintained that she had nothing to do with the plot, but was still given a lifetime ban from competitive figure skating and ordered to pay a $100,00 fine. In 2009, Harding spoke to Oprah Winfrey and sounded contrite about Kerrigan having gone through such an ordeal. Harding said that if she ever ran into Kerrigan, she would want to “give her a hug” and tell her “how proud I am of her of being able to go forward with her life.”
But nothing of the sort happened when the two former skaters crossed paths four years after the attack, Kerrigan said. The encounter was awkward and the two didn’t even speak, Kerrigan recalled. Since then, no “direct” apology has ever come. “Does it matter at this point?” Kerrigan wondered.
Kerrigan went on to skate in the 1994 Olympics and won the silver medal. Harding competed as well, but came away without medaling. These days, Kerrigan, 47 is competing on the ABC show Dancing with The Stars, and has a documentary coming out that takes a look at athletes who deal with eating disorders — a personal issue for her. She said in the months and years after the attack, she battled an eating disorder. And Kerrigan went on in the interview to open up about her struggles with having children — she suffered six miscarriages before giving birth to three kids.
Watch the full interview below.