The footage of Nancy Kerrigan screaming in agony shocked a nation. On January 6, 1994, the champion skater was attacked in a corridor inside the Cobo Arena in Detroit after completing a practice session for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Lying on the floor, crying with pain, she clutched her injured leg. “Why?!” she sobbed. “Why?!”
The attacker – who immediately fled the scene – was an unknown white man dressed in a leather jacket. Using a bludgeon that Kerrigan described as “some hard, hard black stick,” he had assaulted her just moments after she left the ice. He struck her on her right thigh just above the kneecap. The man had clearly intended to debilitate her.
Police investigators soon traced the attack to one of Kerrigan’s rival competitors: Tonya Harding. Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, had in fact hired a guy called Shane Stant to injure Kerrigan and – all too literally – knock her out of the championship. The incident cast a dark shadow on figure skating. And as a cautionary tale about professional sporting jealousy, it remains highly relevant today.