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NBC documentary ‘Nancy & Tonya’ revisits 1994 skating scandal

Nancy Kerrigan rehearses for an ice show in 2009.
Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Edge Health

Prior to the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympic closing ceremonies, NBC presented a 90-minute documentary on Sunday. “Nancy & Tonya,” refers to Olympians Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding, had been hyped and previewed throughout much of the Sochi Olympic telecast.

Now it was ready to be shown in its entirety with an introduction from Bob Costas.

What makes this documentary on the 1994 figure skating scandal different from all others is the presence of Nancy Kerrigan. For the first time in 20 years she agrees to speak with Mary Carillo.

Viewers finally hear Kerrigan’s side of the story. Many people on social media expressed “who cares” about this. It is extremely relevant to the Winter Olympics and the popular event of figure skating. Perhaps Kerrigan agreed to be interviewed, so a new generation would learn what life was like before reality TV.

This had all the makings primed for a YouTube, TMZ, and social media frenzy, except it happened 20 years ago. At the start of “Nancy & Tonya” you see how their lives are presently. Nancy drives her three children to school during the weekday.

Tonya is shown singing horrendously at some karaoke dive bar. Nancy still looks as lovely as she did 20 years ago, while Tonya looks bloated, angry, and pompous.

One thing about the documentary that viewers may come away with is the fascinating commonalities and differences they share. Each came from a blue collar family background. Nancy and Tonya were at first tomboys before they began skating. Money was extremely tight for their families. Yet they managed to get by with the excessively high cost of competitive figure skating.

Their differences greatly lay in family stability. Nancy comes from a loving and supportive home, whereas Tonya was raised by a dysfunctional single mother. Nancy exudes grace and artistry on ice, while Tonya was powerful and highly athletic. One thing worth noting, Tonya Harding was the first American female skater to land a triple axel in competition.

Of course that fateful day in January 1994 is discussed and explored. There’s a film clip where Harding says in 1994 she has a bodyguard. She’s clearly with a very large man next to her. Then in the 2014 interview she states there was never a bodyguard and would never hire that fat guy.

At the end of the documentary Nancy Kerrigan is joined in the Sochi NBC studio with Bob Costas. She seems a lot more relaxed, and not nearly as uptight talking about Tonya as she is in “Nancy & Tonya.” There are many other documentaries and TV movies regarding this scandal. This one presents both sides as well as being an excellent case study worth watching.

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