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A skater attacked by another skater
ABC Sports Online


Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding contributed perhaps the most bizarre figure skating moment in Wide World history as Kerrigan was attacked in an attempt to prevent her from performing at the national championships. ABC's Wide World figure skating announcers Dick Button and Peggy Fleming share their recollections of this tragic and unusual incident.

Dick Button
Then there was the Nancy Kerrigan/Tonya Harding conflict. I mean, that was the most absurd, depressing saga I had ever seen. I hate talking about it, and I hate remembering it. But I do have to give Nancy Kerrigan credit for the comeback she made in getting ready for the 1994 Winter Olympic games, and becoming a major force in them in the event in Lilehammer.

I was just yards from where she was attacked, and I heard the excitement, and I heard the screams and the yelling that went on. And of course saw the immediate coverage of it that our cameras achieved. Who could have imagined that this would take place? It was a depressing, sad, disappointing saga in American skating history, and in fact, in American life.

Peggy Fleming
When I had heard about the attack, I had just left the practice session and went over to the main building for the ABC production meeting. I was at the production meeting and we had just finished when somebody had run in and told us that Nancy Kerrigan had been attacked.We thought it was a joke.
NANCY KERRIGAN
The attack that Tonya Harding (right) orchestrated on Nancy Kerrigan was terrible.

But it wasn't until I was on the bus going back to the hotel that the talk really started to buzz around the bus saying that that really did happen and she was really hurt. That was just a shock and I thought, "Well, it's probably because we're in Detroit." I mean because there's a history of it being a rough city. I thought that's what it was all about but it turned out that it wasn't.

It was just such a circus. And instead of our show being a sports show it turned out to be a news show, more than anything. It was an incredible experience to be in the middle of.

I could never, ever imagine another skater trying to injure a competitor to try to get ahead. That never crossed my mind. I've never even seen an inkling of threat in my career. And so the thought never had crossed my mind that it could be Tonya Harding doing something like this, that she had anything to do with it. It was just a real unusual circumstance and an unusual thing for our sport. But it sure got a lot of attention.

That year watching, Tonya Harding go out and skate that national championship while Nancy Kerrigan watched from the sky box was so odd. The feeling in the building was so confusing. And, you know, you really weren't focused totally on the skating that year. It was really focused on will Nancy skate in the Olympics or not, because it was all so up in the air. We just didn't know what to think.

The whole incident with Nancy Kerrigan and Tanya Harding changed our sport and brought a whole new audience to our sport. It takes all kinds of people to do this sport. We're not cookie-cutter forms of the type of person that you are and the type of skating you do. I mean, we all have something to contribute to the sport and this incident just opened the door. There are a variety of people that participate and it was an unusual circumstance and it probably will never happen again. It certainly put figure skating in the forefront, though.

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