Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Price of Gold.

Notwithstanding an old 30 Rock joke about the alleged "superiority" of the Summer Olympics, I happen to find the Winter Olympics equally fascinating.  I was also born during the 1984 winter games, so that may be a factor, but the main reason is easily women's figure skating.  Fostered by my mom's love of Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill and Katarina Witt, Kristi Yamaguchi became my favorite person who was not a Disney princess in 1992, and I was all about Nancy Kerrigan's balletic skating (queen of the arabesque!) two years later.  I also had a very intense obsession with big curly hair when I was in elementary school, so she was pretty much my definition of beauty!

You know where this is going: January 1994, the national championships in my hometown of Detroit, Michigan, a "hit" on Nancy orchestrated by Tonya Harding's husband, possibly involving Tonya herself, and "why, why, why?!" on repeat across the country.  We were all equally captivated and horrified by the story, as evidenced by the 1994 women's figure skating competitions still holding the title for highest-rated Olympic telecast in American history.  

Attempting to capture some of that nostalgia (and clearly it's working on me), ESPN released its latest 30 for 30 documentary last Thursday: The Price of Gold, which revisits the Kerrigan-Harding rivalry, how (and a bit of why) it all occurred, and what perspective twenty years can have on the event.  While Tonya was interviewed and features prominently in the documentary, Nancy declined to participate, as did Tonya's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly (now Jeff Stone), but if this tale sends you into childhood reminiscing, I've cobbled together some other interesting pieces to give a more complete picture.

- 30 for 30: The Price of Gold premiered last Thursday, January 17.  ESPN will be rerunning it quite frequently over the next several weeks, including this coming Friday, January 24 at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

- NBC's Documentary on the 1994 events, to air some time during the Sochi Olympics (yet to be announced), will feature interviews with Nancy Kerrigan as well as Tonya Harding.  Nancy is serving as a contributor and analyst for NBC in Sochi, so she will likely have to discuss what happened more than once this winter.

- Deadspin has an eye-opening interview with Tonya's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, who served jail time for his role in the attack on Nancy.  While he's not exactly a credible source, the interview serves as an interesting companion to Tonya's version of the facts.  His casualness and joking manner about the whole thing is, to put it mildly, off-putting.

- Slate details why Tonya Harding couldn't land the endorsements Nancy Kerrigan did.  This behind-the-scenes stuff was fascinating, and I admit to understanding Tonya's years of frustration a little more after reading.

- The Hang Up and Listen podcast discusses "The Kneecapping on Ice."

{Tonya Harding, today}

It kind of blew me away that it has been twenty years.  And looking at it through the lens of an adult instead of that of a ten-year-old girl, how insane that this even happened?!  A man hired another man to take a police baton to a 24-year-old figure skater's knee cap so that his wife had a better shot at winning a gold medal at the Olympics.  Wow.  I'll leave you to your own opinion as to what Tonya knew or didn't know and at what time, but it is certainly the one question - despite Tonya's adamant denials - these documentaries and articles cannot answer with certainty. 

While it is natural to feel some sympathy toward Tonya for her abusive upbringing and the disparity between having to sew her own costumes and Nancy's Vera Wang-designed creations for gratis, not to mention the way the media portrayed Nancy as the "ice princess" ready to inherit the gold from Kristi, and Tonya as the rough and tumble athlete (here the word was almost used disparagingly), that hard edge has not left her.  A sampling from The Price of Gold:

{Searching for images of the 2 yield hundreds of side-by-side comparisons like the above, Nancy as the regal princess, 
and Tonya as the crumbling mess}

"Nancy's a princess," Tonya says in the film.  "That's how everybody's seen her.  She's a princess and I'm a pile of crap."  

Later, when discussing Nancy's mildly tarnished post-Olympics image (she was caught on camera making some less than charitable remarks a few times), Tonya says, "She was the crybaby who didn't win the gold.  I'm sorry, I've never said this before, but just shut up!  Nobody wants to hear your whining, ok?  You got a silver medal in the Olympics and all you can do is pooh-pooh them away?  I just don't think it's right."

Well, everyone's entitled to their opinion.

xo. di.

*image 1,2,3,4,5

No comments:

Post a Comment

thanks so much for the note! i love reading your comments. xo. di.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

design + development by fabulous k