Tonya Maxene Harding (born November 12, 1970) is an American figure skating champion, a two-time Olympian, and a two-time Skate America Champion. In 1991 she won the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and placed second in the World Championships. She was the second woman, and the first American woman, to complete a triple axel jump in competition. She became notorious after her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, conspired with Shawn Eckhardt and Shane Stant to physically assault her skating competitor Nancy Kerrigan at a practice session during the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Harding was born in Portland, Oregon, the daughter of LaVona Fay Golden (1940-) and her fifth husband Al Harding (1933-2009). She had a half-brother, Chris Davison, who was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. Her father had health problems that sometimes left him unable to work. She claims that her mother physically abused her, a claim that her mother admitted to when asked for a response by The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2009.[not in citation given] She began skating at age three. She landed her first triple lutz at age 12. Her mother made many of her skating costumes.
She stopped attending high school during her sophomore year and later earned a GED as she started receiving invitations to international skating competitions while she was still in junior high school.
Harding married Jeff Gillooly in early 1990, when she was 19 years old. Their tumultuous marriage ended in divorce in 1993. She divorced her second husband Michael Smith in 1995. She married 42-year-old Joseph Jens Price on June 23, 2010. On February 11, 2011, it was announced that she was pregnant with her first child. Harding gave birth to a son on February 19, 2011. She was the first celebrity to have a sex tape leaked to a Penthouse magazine.
Harding began working her way up the competitive skating ladder in the mid-1980s, placing sixth at the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, fifth in 1987 and 1988, and third in 1989. She was considered a strong contender at the 1990 U.S. Figure Skating Championships after having won Skate America 1989, but she had a poor free skate as a result of suffering from the flu and asthma and dropped from second place after the original program to finish seventh overall. While she was powerful with her jumps and spins, she did not perform well with the compulsory figures.
Harding's breakthrough year was in 1991, where she landed her first triple axel at the U.S. Championships, winning the title with the event's first 6.0 ever given to a single female skater for technical merit. She competed well at the World Championships but finished second to Kristi Yamaguchi. She would again complete the triple axel during her long program at the World Championships, becoming the first American woman to do so. In her career, she landed four triple axels in competition (all of them in 1991) where she completed each one she tried: One at the U.S. Championships, another at the World Championships, and two at the Fall 1991 Skate America competition.
At the Fall 1991 Skate America, Harding recorded three more firsts:
The first woman to complete a triple axel in the short program
The first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a single competition
The first ever to complete a triple axel combination with the double toe loop
Despite her initial record-breaking performances, she was never able to successfully perform the triple axel in a competition after 1991, and her career began to decline as a result. In 1992, she placed third in the U.S. Championships after twisting her ankle in practice. She finished fourth in the 1992 Winter Olympics, and in the 1992 World Championships she placed sixth in a weak field. The following season, she skated poorly in the 1993 U.S. Championships and failed to qualify for the World Championship team.
Series of incidents
The latter part of her competitive career was marked by a series of blunders, causing television commentators to observe that no competition was complete without Harding having a crisis:
Skating magazine reported that at Skate America in 1991, she was stranded in heavy traffic just before her event was scheduled to begin and had to hitch a ride with people who drove her backwards through traffic to the arena.
In the short program at the 1993 Nationals, she had to ask permission from the referee to restart her program after the back of her dress came unhooked as she began to skate.
At the 1993 Skate America, she stopped midway through her free skate and complained to the referee that her skate blade had become loose. She was allowed to resume her program after her blades were checked by a skate technician. In the same event, she claimed to be suffering from an ovarian cyst that was on the verge of bursting, seriously endangering her health.
The medal ceremony at the 1994 Championships had to be delayed because she could not be found backstage after the competition.
During the 1994 Winter Olympics, she almost failed to appear on the ice when her name was called for the free skating because she was scrambling to replace a broken skate lace. The replacement turned out to be too short to fully lace up the skate, and after missing the opening jump in her program she again had to ask the referee for permission to find a new lace.
In addition to the incidents listed above, Harding went through a series of coaching changes, at one point even attempting to coach herself. In spite of the publicity she received about being handicapped by asthma, she also periodically smoked.
Attack on Nancy Kerrigan
International media attending Tonya Harding's practice sessions in preparation for the 1994 Olympics at Clackamas Town Center.
Harding became notorious in conjunction with the January 6, 1994 attack on her competitor Nancy Kerrigan. The widely publicized attack took place during a practice session on the eve of the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. Her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, hired Shane Stant to break Kerrigan's right leg so that she would be unable to skate. Stant followed her to Detroit after failing to find her at her training rink in Massachusetts, and struck her on the thigh a few inches above the knee with an ASP baton. Her leg was only bruised, not broken, but the injury forced her to withdraw from the national championship. Harding won that event, and they both were selected for the 1994 Olympic team.  Harding finished eighth in Lillehammer, while Kerrigan, by then fully recovered from the injury, won the silver medal.
The attack on Kerrigan and the news of Harding's alleged involvement led to a media frenzy of saturation news coverage. Kerrigan appeared on the cover of both Time and Newsweek magazines in January 1994. Reporters and TV news crews attended Kerrigan's practices in Portland and camped out in front of her home. CBS assigned Connie Chung to follow her every move in Lillehammer. Counting 400 members of the press jammed into the practice rink in Norway, Scott Hamilton complained that "the world press was turning the Olympics into just another sensational tabloid event". The tape-delayed broadcast of the short program at the Olympics remains one of the most watched telecasts in American history.
On February 1, 1994, Gillooly accepted a plea bargain in exchange for his testimony against Harding. Gillooly, Stant, Eckhardt, and getaway car driver Derrick Smith all served time in prison for the attack. Eckhardt was sentenced to 18 months in prison for racketeering but was released four months early in September 1995.
Harding avoided further prosecution and a possible jail sentence by pleading guilty on March 16 to conspiring to hinder prosecution of the attackers. She received three years probation, 500 hours of community service and a $160,000 fine. As part of the plea bargain, she was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and resign from the USFSA. On June 30, 1994, after conducting its own investigation of the attack, the USFSA stripped her of her 1994 U.S. Championships title and banned her for life from participating in USFSA-run events as either a skater or a coach. The USFSA concluded that she knew about the attack before it happened and displayed "a clear disregard for fairness, good sportsmanship and ethical behavior". Although the USFSA has no control over professional skating events, she was also persona non grata on the pro circuit because few skaters and promoters would work with her. Consequently, she failed to benefit from the pro skating boom that ensued in the aftermath of the scandal.
In her 2008 autobiography, The Tonya Tapes, she said that she wanted to call the FBI to reveal what she knew, but refused when Gillooly allegedly threatened her with death following a gunpoint gang rape by him and two other men she did not know. He subsequently changed his name to Jeff Stone and called the allegations "utterly ridiculous". Eckhardt, who legally changed his name to Brian Sean Griffith following his release from jail, died of natural causes at age 40 on December 12, 2007.
Harding entered the celebrity sex tape world when an explicit "Wedding Video" showed her having sex with her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. Gillooly had sold the tape to a tabloid TV show after being implicated as a conspirator in the Kerrigan attack. Stills from the tape were published by Penthouse in September 1994 and the tape itself was released at about the same time.
Harding had a number of minor run-ins with the law following her involvement with the Kerrigan attack. Some of the incidents that have been reported in the press include the following:
On May 25, 1995, it was reported that she claimed she was being stalked by someone driving a white Lincoln Town Car, resulting in a car chase involving her, her ex-husband Gillooly, and the police.
On February 12, 1997, Harding claimed that she was abducted at knife-point outside her home by a bushy-haired man who forced her to drive to a rural area, where she rammed her truck into a tree and escaped by running into the woods. Police found no evidence of an abduction. This alleged incident happened on the opening weekend of the 1997 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
On October 16, 1997, she reported that her truck had been stolen from a shopping mall parking lot.
On January 6, 2000, Harding was in the news again after she lost control of her truck on an icy road and landed in a ditch. Her then boyfriend, Darren Silver, allegedly made threats against a press photographer.
On February 24, 2000, Harding was ordered by a Clark County judge to avoid alcohol and her former boyfriend, Darren Silver, after being booked on fourth-degree Domestic Violence assault charges for punching and throwing a hubcap at him at their Camas, Washington residence. She was also sentenced to 3 days in jail and 10 days of community service on a work crew. Shortly before this Harding was attempting to make a comeback as a professional skater, but the hubcap incident effectively ended her return to skating.
On April 20, 2002, she was involved in another accident with her truck. She was cited for drunk driving and a violation of her probation agreement from her 2000 conviction.
On October 23, 2005, Harding, apparently under the influence of alcohol again, was involved in a fight at her home in Vancouver, Washington with Christopher Nolan, a man she described as her boyfriend. Initially, she made a 911 call claiming to have been assaulted in her home by two masked men. For his part, Nolan claimed that she attacked him after having too much to drink. In the end, he was charged with assault and ordered to stay away from her and to avoid alcohol.
On March 11, 2007, the Clark County sheriff's office responded to two calls related to her. The first call was from Harding, at 5 a.m. She told the officer who responded that she had observed five armed intruders trying to steal her vehicle and hide rifles on her property. The responding officer's report described her as "agitated" and her story as "very implausible," and recorded her frustration that others could not see the people she saw. He could find no evidence to back up her claims. The second call, four hours later, at 9 a.m., was from a friend who had agreed to let her visit. Her host told police that although she was not violent, she was "tweaking out, seeing animals," and she was worried about her children's safety. She requested police return her to her home. Police reported that the officer who returned to her home inspected her house, to reassure her, and advised her to seek medical help. Linda Lewis, her longtime agent, attributed her behavior to a bad reaction to legitimate prescription drugs.
She won her third pro bout against Alejandra Lopez at the Creek Nations Gaming Center.
On March 23, 2004, it was reported that she cancelled a planned boxing match against Tracy Carlton in Oakland, California because of an alleged death threat against her.
On June 24, 2004, after reportedly not having boxed for over a year, she was beaten in a match in Edmonton, Alberta by boxer Amy Johnson. Fans reportedly booed her as she entered the ring and cheered wildly for Johnson as she won in the third round. Harding later protested the outcome.
Her boxing career was quite short, a brevity she attributes to asthma. Her overall record was 3–3–0.
The book Women on Ice: Feminist Essays on the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan Spectacle (ISBN 0-415-91150-8), published in 1995, included a number of essays analyzing her public image in the context of the sport of figure skating.
In an episode of the television program Seinfeld called "The Understudy", when the titular character takes the stage, she has a problem with the laces on her boot and, in an act reminiscent of Harding's bootlace incident, tearfully asks that she be allowed to start over.
Spunk: The Tonya Harding Story was a satirical short which aired on Comedy Central during the 1994 Olympic Games. 
Elizabeth Searle's novella, Celebrities In Disgrace, centers on the Harding-Kerrigan affair. Searle later collaborated with composer Abigail Al-Doory to create Tonya and Nancy: The Opera, a chamber opera produced in May 2006 by Tufts University and directed by Meron Langsner. Searle later created Tonya & Nancy: The Rock Opera, which was presented at the American Repertory Theatre's Oberon space twice. Singer/actress Kristen Lee Sargeant played Tonya in the opera and Nancy in the rock opera.
^Guerrero, Eddie (2005). Cheating Death, Stealing Life: The Eddie Guerrero Story. Simon and Schuster. pp. 100–101. ISBN0743493532. "Tonya Harding was actually very quiet, nice and sweet, not at all like the crowbar-swinging ho the press made her out to be. Of course, she had no idea who we were. She was just earning a paycheck, capitalizing on whatever was lef of her fifteen minutes of fame."
^"Stage Fright". People Magazine44 (12) (Time, Inc.). 1995-09-18. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "Lennon-McCartney it wasn't. When disgraced Olympic skater Tonya Harding took to the stage in Portland, Ore., earlier this month under her new guise as a pop singer, she showed none of the biker-girl swagger that once so unsettled the skating world. Harding started out singing the words to an original song: "Feel the beat," went the lyrics, "feel the heat." Mostly what she and the other members of the Golden Blades felt was the derision of 10,000 raucous music festival fans, who jeered and tossed soda bottles onto the stage, forcing the Blades to beat a retreat. Harding's agent, Merrill Eichenberger, concedes his client could use a little more practice than the two nights a week she's put in for the past six months. "Singing is like skating," he says. "You can't just lace up a pair of skates and go out there and do a triple axel.""
^"Tonya Harding Debuts As Singer In Portland Concert For Mda". Seattle Times. The Seattle Times Company. 1995-08-30. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "Tonya Harding, the Olympic figure skater who fell from grace, is making her debut as a singer. Harding will appear with her band, The Golden Blades, at a concert Sunday to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The band will perform "light pop" music, possibly including a Madonna song, according to Kellie Shipp of KKRZ-FM, the radio station that invited Harding to perform."
^"Harding Helps to Save Woman's Life". New York Times (from AP). 1996-10-29. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "TONYA HARDING, a villainess in public minds during an Olympic figure skating fiasco with NANCY KERRIGAN in 1994, was being saluted as a hero yesterday, after helping to save a woman's life Sunday night at a bar in suburban Portland, Ore., near her home. Shortly after Harding and her godmother LINDA LEWIS stopped at the Lost and Found Saloon to play video poker, ALICE OLSON, 81, collapsed and stopped breathing. Harding called 911 with her cellular phone and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation."
^"The Tonya Harding – Nancy Kerrigan saga: A Timeline". The Oregonian (Oregon Live LLC). 2006-05-08. Archived from the original on 2013-04-19. "The Tonya Harding story had sports, sleaze and more. The events as they unfolded both fascinated and disturbed Portland and the nation. Major networks, The New York Times and every tabloid television show from Australia to Japan descended on Portland, setting up camp across from the Justice Center Jail in downtown Portland. They chased principals in the case, each other and peripheral figures with checkbooks in hand."
^"Harding Uninjured In Truck Accident". AP News Archive. AP. 2000-01-06. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "Tonya Harding was not injured when her truck skidded off the road and landed in a ditch Thursday. The accident occurred six years to the day her figure-skating rival, Nancy Kerrigan, was attacked after she practiced for the national figure skating championship in Detroit. Harding, her husband and his friends were later found to have been involved in the attack. Harding was driving her pickup truck in rural Clark County when she hit some ice and skidded about 30 feet and landed in the ditch. She was not injured, but threatened a lawsuit if a photographer from a Vancouver newspaper took her picture. Harding's male friend threatened to break the photographer's camera."
^"This Just In: Tonya Harding arrested on domestic assault charge". Kitsap Sun. Scripps Howard. 2000-02-24. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "CAMAS — Former Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding has been arrested, accused of throwing a hubcap at her live-in boyfriend and repeatedly punching him in the face. Harding, 29, was ordered to appear today in Camas Municipal Court.She was booked Tuesday night for investigation of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, after an altercation that left her boyfriend's face bruised and bloodied, Camas police said. She was released an hour later. The victim was identified as Darren Silver, 28. Police said Harding and Silver have lived together about three years. Silver said Harding was "hooking me like Mike Tyson," the police account stated."
^Du Bois, Steven (2002-08-09). "Harding sentenced to 10 days in jail". News.cincinnati.com. Gannett. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "Tonya Harding was sentenced to 10 days in jail Thursday for drinking alcohol while on probation. In court, the former Olympic figure skater said her arrest for drunken driving forced her to re-examine her life and was the best thing that could have happened to her. “I'm grateful to the judge for giving me this opportunity; I finally found out what my problem is: It's alcohol,” Harding said after the brief hearing. “I'm glad it happened so no one gets hurt, I don't get hurt and I'm making something right in my life for a change.” Harding is scheduled to start her sentence Aug. 20. Her lawyer, Steven Thayer, asked Judge Darvin Zimmerman to let Harding do her time in isolation. He presented a letter from a doctor saying Harding suffers from panic attacks."
^Crombie, Noelle (2007-03-14). "Tonya Harding prompts police calls earlier this week". OregonLive.com. Oregon Live LLC. Retrieved 2013-04-19. "Clark County sheriff's deputies responded to two calls early Sunday morning involving Tonya Harding, who was described in police reports as "very agitated" and "tweaking out." Sgt. Tim Bieber told The Oregonian this morning that police received the first call at 4:56 a.m. Harding called police to Yacolt Towing on 109 West Yacolt Road. According to a police report of the incident, Harding said four men and a woman tried to break into her car and steal it and were trying to stash rifles on the side of her property. She said that the incident had taken place about 30 minutes before the call and that the suspects had followed her and a tow truck driver to the tow yard. She told authorities one of the suspects was wearing a "beanie hat" and was sitting at the door of the tow shop. She told police she was on "new medication" and was experiencing an adverse reaction."