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It Was 20 Years Ago Today...



February 25, 1994.  The culmination of the single most bizarre episode in the history of modern American sports.  Today is 20 years to the day that Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding skated onto the Lillehammer ice and into immortality in a Ladies Long Program for the ages.  “30 for 30″ did a documentary about them.  Mary Carrillo did an hour on them before the Closing Ceremonies the other night.  And if you haven’t seen both of them I suggest you do.  Because even though the Tonya and Nancy saga dominated the lives of me and my Beloved Irish Rose in the early days of our marriage, I couldn’t believe how many little details I’d forgotten.  Seriously the whole story still feels like fiction because it’s too perfect to be true.  I mean, just the names of the characters involved sound more like a Carl Hiassen novel than real life.  Jeff Gillooly.  Shane Stant.  Shawn Eckhardt.   Tonya practicing at a rink in a mall with ten million cameras following her every move. Her mom giving interviews in a fur coat with a parrot on her shoulder.  The plot to hit Nancy at the Tony Kent Arena on the Cape where she trained.  The notes investigators found in a restaurant dumpster that had directions to Tony Kent only it was spelled “Tunee Can.”  Gillooly and Eckhardt each rocking two of the top five best Scumbag Mustaches of all time. And on and on.  So it was only fitting that the denouement of the whole drama would be Tonya breaking a skate lace, almost getting DQ’ed, then skating off the ice in tears and getting a re-do later on while the whole world watched in awe.  (And poor Josee Chouinard of Canada got hosed in a major way.)  Add to that the exclamation point of Nancy getting beaten out by a Ukrainian orphan for the gold and getting caught bad mouthing her into an open mic, then going to Disney a week later and bitching about how corny it was to Mickey Mouse. Like the saying goes, you can’t make it up.

The whole story is surreal to the point I still rank it as my No. 1 All Time Most Bizarre Sports Moment of my life.  The official list:

10. The Malace in the Palace Ron Artest/Ben Wallace fight

9.  The White Sox “Disco Demolition Night” riot

8.  Woody Hayes punches a player in the face in the middle of a game

7.  Rosie Ruiz takes the Green Line to win the Boston Marathon

6.  Monica Seles gets stabbed in the middle of a match

5.  A father/son team run onto the field and attack the Royals’ first base coach

4.  Bruins players climb into the stands at Madison Square Garden and Mike Milbury beats a Rangers fan with his own shoe

3.  Fan Man drops out of the sky in the middle of Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield

2.  Mike Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear off and a riot ensues

1.  Tonya-Nancy.

They’re No. 1 because as good as all those other stories were, they didn’t give us  the pure joy of 2 decades watching Tonya Harding decend into Celebrity Trainwreck Hell.  The Wedding Night porn tape.  Boxing Paula Jones on TV.  Gaining 100 lbs.  And her incredible karaoke performance in an empty Oregon bar for NBC Sunday night.  Thanks for the memories, ladies.  @JerryThornton1