Tonya Harding

Tonya Maxene Price[2] (née Harding; born November 12, 1970) is an American former figure skater, retired boxer, and reality television personality.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Harding was raised primarily by her mother, who enrolled her in ice skating lessons beginning at age four. Harding would spend much of her early life training, eventually dropping out of high school to devote her time to the sport. After climbing the ranks in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships between 1986 and 1989, Harding won the 1989 Skate America competition. She was the 1991 and 1994 U.S. champion before being stripped of her 1994 title, and 1991 World silver medalist. In 1991, she earned distinction as being the first American woman to successfully land a triple Axel in competition, and the second woman to do so in history (behind Midori Ito). She is also a two-time Olympian and a two-time Skate America Champion.

In January 1994, Harding became embroiled in controversy when her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, orchestrated an attack on her fellow U.S. skating rival Nancy Kerrigan. Both women then competed in the February 1994 Winter Olympics, where Kerrigan won the silver medal and Harding finished eighth. Harding later pleaded guilty to hindering the prosecution in March and was banned for life on June 30, 1994 from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

In the early 2000s, Harding competed as a professional boxer, and her life has been the subject of numerous films, documentaries, books, and academic studies. In 2014, two television documentaries about Harding's life and skating career (Nancy & Tonya and The Price of Gold) were aired within two months of each other — inspiring Steven Rogers to write the darkly comedic biographical film I, Tonya, released in 2017 and starring Margot Robbie as Harding. In 2018 Harding was a contestant on season 26 of Dancing with the Stars, finishing in third place.

Contents

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Skating career
    • 2.1 Figure skating record
  • 3 Attack on Nancy Kerrigan and aftermath
  • 4 Later celebrity
    • 4.1 Boxing career
      • 4.1.1 Professional boxing record
    • 4.2 Automobile racing land speed record
    • 4.3 Dancing with the Stars
  • 5 Personal life
  • 6 Cultural significance
    • 6.1 Representation in other media
    • 6.2 Academic assessment
  • 7 References
  • 8 Works cited

 

Tonya Harding
Tonya harding mac club 1994 by andrew parodi.jpeg
Harding at a Portland, Oregon reception shortly after the 1994 Winter Olympics
Personal information
Full name Tonya Maxene Price
Country represented United States
Born Tonya Maxene Harding[1]
(1970-11-12) November 12, 1970 (age 48)
Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Spouse(s)
  • Jeff Gillooly
    (m. 1990; div. 1993)
  • Michael Smith
    (m. 1995; div. 1996)
  • Joseph Price
    (m. 2010)
Height 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m)
Coach Diane Rawlinson (1973–1989; 1992–1994)
Dody Teachman (1989–92)

 

Early life

Ice Chalet at Portland's Lloyd Center, where Harding began skating at age four

Tonya Maxene Harding was born on November 12, 1970, in Portland, Oregon, to LaVona Golden (b. 1940)[3] and Albert Harding (1933–2009).[4] She was raised in East Portland and began skating at age three, training with coach Diane Rawlinson. During her youth, Harding also hunted, drag raced, and learned automotive mechanics from her father. He held various odd jobs including managing apartments, driving a truck, and working at a bait-and-tackle store – yet was often underemployed due to poor health.[5] LaVona struggled to support the family while working as a waitress, and hand-sewed her daughter's skating costumes as they could not afford to purchase them.[6] Harding's parents divorced after 19 years of marriage in 1987, when she was 16 years old.[7] She later dropped out of Milwaukie High School during her sophomore year in order to focus on skating, and earned a General Equivalency Diploma in 1988.[8]

According to Harding, she was frequently abused by her mother. She stated that by the time she was seven years old, physical and psychological abuse had both become a regular part of her life. LaVona admitted to one instance of hitting Harding at an ice rink.[9] In January 2018, Harding's childhood friend and filmmaker, Sandra Luckow, spoke in defence of Harding's mother because she felt that the 2017 film I, Tonya stretched some truths about LaVona's character. Luckow said that although Harding's mother could be "egregious" towards her daughter, LaVona actually funded and appreciated Harding's skating lessons – and had "a huge amount of humanity."[10][11][12]

In Harding's 2008 authorized biography, The Tonya Tapes (written by Lynda D. Prouse from recorded interviews with Harding), she stated she was the victim of acquaintance rape in 1991[13] and that her half-brother, Chris Davison, molested her on several occasions when she was a child. In 1986, Harding called the police after Davison had been sexually harassing and terrorizing her. He was arrested and spent a short time in prison. Harding claimed that her parents were in denial about Davison's behavior and told her not to press criminal charges against him. Davison was killed in a 1988 unsolved vehicular hit-and-run accident.[14][15] On May 3, 1994, during an interview with Rolonda Watts, Harding said that Chris Davison was the lone person in her life unworthy of forgiveness and "the only person I've ever hated."[16][17]

Skating career

Harding trained as a figure skater throughout her youth with coach Diane Rawlinson. In the mid-1980s, she began working her way up the competitive skating ladder. She placed sixth at the 1986 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, fifth in 1987 and 1988, and third in 1989. After competing in the February 1989 Nationals Championship, Harding began training with Dody Teachman as her coach.[18][19] She then won the October 1989 Skate America competition, and was considered a strong contender at the February 1990 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. However, she was suffering from the flu and asthma and had a poor free skate. After the original program, she dropped from second place and finished seventh overall.[20] Harding was a powerful free skater and typically had lower placements in the compulsory figures.[21][22]

Harding's breakthrough year came in 1991 when, at the U.S. Championships, she completed her first triple Axel in competition on February 16 — the first American woman to execute the jump.[23] She won the 1991 U.S. Ladies' Singles title with the event's first 6.0 technical merit score since Janet Lynn's 1973 performance at the U.S. Championships.[21] At the March 1991 World Championships, an international event, she again completed the triple Axel. Harding would finish second behind Kristi Yamaguchi, and in front of Nancy Kerrigan, marking the first time one country swept the ladies medal podium at the World Figure Skating Championships.[24]

At the September 1991 Skate America competition, 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 in combination (with the double toe loop)

Despite these record-breaking performances, after 1991, Harding was never again able to successfully complete the triple Axel in competition; her competitive results began to decline. She and Dody Teachman had briefly parted ways in April 1991, but had reunited in June;[15] Harding was still training under Teachman for the upcoming 1992 season.[25] She placed third in the January 1992 U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite twisting her ankle during practice, and finished fourth in the February 1992 Winter Olympics. On March 1, 1992, Harding gave Teachman a summary dismissal and returned to Diane Rawlinson to be coached by her.[18][26] On March 29 Harding placed sixth in the 1992 World Championships, although she had a better placement at the November 1992 Skate Canada International event finishing fourth.[27] In the 1993 season, she skated poorly in the U.S. Championships and failed to qualify for the World Championship team.[28][29]

In January 1994, Harding won the U.S. Championships but was later stripped of her title. The USFSA disciplinary panel voted to vacate the title in June 1994, following an investigation of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan. In February 1994, Harding was permitted to remain a member U.S Olympic ice skating team, despite brief legal controversy.[30][31] After an issue with a broken skate lace in the long program, she was given a re-skate by the judges and finished in eighth place, behind Oksana Baiul (gold) and Nancy Kerrigan (silver).[32]

Figure skating record

International
Event[33]1985–861986–871987–881988–891989–901990–911991–921992–931993–94
Winter Olympics             4th   8th
World Championships           2nd 6th    
Skate America   2nd     1st   1st   3rd
Skate Canada International               4th  
Nations Cup         1st        
NHK Trophy     3rd     2nd     4th
Prize of Moscow News[34]       1st          
National
U.S. Championships[35][36] 6th 5th 5th 3rd 7th 1st 3rd 4th 1st
U.S. Olympic Festival[36] 5th         2nd      

^† In June 1994, Claire Ferguson, the President of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, voted to strip Harding of her 1994 title. However, the competition results were not changed and the title was left vacant rather than moving all the other competitors up one position.[37]

Personal life

In September 1986, when she was 15 years old, Harding began a relationship with 17-year-old Jeff Gillooly. They moved into a starter home together in 1988 when he worked in distribution at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.[167][168] They married on March 18, 1990, when she was 19 and he was 22. In January 1992, Harding told Terry Richard (a journalist for The Oregonian) "Jeff always put food on the table and a roof over my head. He paid for my skating for a couple of years. If it hadn't been for him during that time, I wouldn't have been skating."[169] On August 28, 1993, they divorced after a tumultuous marriage.[1][170][171] During the autumn of 1993, it was reported that Gillooly was working part-time managing Harding's career and taking real-estate classes.[172][173] Harding and Gillooly had been continuing to see each other since early October 1993 and were sharing a rented chalet[174] together in Beavercreek, Oregon until the evening of January 18, 1994.[73]

She married her second husband, Michael Smith, in 1995; they divorced in 1996.[175] She married and took the surname of 42-year-old Joseph Price, whom she met at a local restaurant called Timbers, on June 23, 2010 when she was 39 years old. She gave birth to her only child, a son named Gordon, on February 19, 2011.[176]

Since leaving skating and boxing, Harding has worked as a welder, a painter at a metal fabrication company, and a hardware sales clerk at Sears.[177] As of 2017, she stated that she worked as a painter and deck builder.[178] She resides in Washington state.[179]

On an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on February 26, 2018, Harding stated that she is still active in skating and practices three times a week. In a segment during the show, she performed several jumps and spins. She trains with her former coach, Dody Teachman.[180]

 

 References

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  2. ^ Spelling of "Maxene" is in dispute, actual spelling may be "Maxine".
  3. ^ https://www.mylife.com/lavona-golden/e321050169042
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  7. ^ Prouse, Lynda D.; Harding, Tonya (2008). Tonya Tapes. p. 40. Retrieved August 3, 2018. [My parents] divorced in 1987. They separated in February, and then their divorce was final sometime in the summer
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  13. ^ Prouse; Harding (2008). Tonya Tapes. pp. 125, 132. Retrieved July 31, 2018. I was separated from Jeff [at the] time in '91. I never told anybody because I knew the person. It was a friend of mine.
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