The Great American Sports Story

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Figure skating is a sport where it helps to have a shit ton of money. Realistically pretty much all winter sports are this way. It's just how things are. Between the need for skates, fancy costumes, and hours upon hours of practice, it just doesn't come cheap. Tonya Harding didn't have any of that shit. No, what Tonya had was a drive to succeed backed by a verbally and physically abusive alcoholic chain smoking mother who was willing to invest what little she made as a waitress in her daughter's dream, though this was most likely only in the hope of a big payoff sometime in the future. You see, Tonya was white trash. There's really no other way to put it. We're talking couch out on the front porch white trash. We're talking getting sexually harassed by your step brother white trash. We're talking everyone in the family arguing over a pack of smokes white trash. We're talking always right on the edge of being homeless white trash. Oh wait, that last one isn't funny? Well guess what, neither is being poor as shit.

Growing up under such conditions, Tonya was a good hunter, mechanic, and pool player, but what she really excelled at was figure skating. Tonya loved figure skating, and maybe sensing a chance for a better life, her family threw everything they had behind her. When the family didn't have enough money to pay for skating lessons, her mother combed the highways looking for cans. When she was told she would need a fur coat to fit in at competitions, her father hunted down local rabbits and made her one. It was the kind of story they make Disney movies about, the plucky have-not forcing their way into the world of the haves, but Tonya was no Cinderella. Instead of catchy songs and wisecracking animal pals, she had chain smoking, backhands, and a hell of a lot of cursing. The world of figure skating, with its blue bloods and upturned noses, treated Tonya like shit, and in return she just spit it right back in their faces. She was who she was, and she wasn't going to feel ashamed about it. At age 16 she dropped out of high school to focus 100% on her skating. At age 19 she married her high school boyfriend, a man by the name of Jeff Gillooly who enjoyed driving his truck through mud and beating his new wife from time to time.

On the figure skating scene Tonya became well known for her amazing physical prowess, and the fact that the judges hated her guts. She was everything figure skating wasn't. She wasn't beautiful and she didn't fit in. They considered her home made costumes, unkempt hair, and general white trashiness to be an embarrassment to the sport. Tonya answered by becoming the first American woman to perform the exceedingly difficult triple axel, forcing them to give her the accolades she felt she deserved. However, after failing to medal in the 1992 Olympics she dropped out of the limelight. With no education to fall back on and her marriage ending in a divorce full of violence and restraining orders, she took a job as a waitress and disappeared. That was the end of it, at least until it was decided to hold the next Winter Olympics only two years later, in 1994, rather than the usual four. Emboldened to try again, Tonya began a training regime involving homemade workout equipment and using the public skating rink at the mall. She even got back together with her ex-husband. The stage was set for the proving of the American Dream.

For the upcoming Olympics Tonya's biggest competition was expected to come from fellow American skater Nancy Kerrigan, an upper middle class princess. Jeff, wanting to help Tonya out, concocted a scheme with his friend Shawn Eckhardt, a man who despite living with his parents was convinced that he was ant international secret agent, to send threatening letters to Kerrigan to psyche her out. What exactly happened from there varies depending upon who you ask, but it ended with Kerrigan getting knee capped by some random white trash idiot and the Olympics becoming a media bonanza the likes never seen before. In the end both women competed, with Tonya finishing 8th and Kerrigan winning the silver. Soon after Tonya was found guilty of conspiring to hinder the prosecution of the idiots who carried out the attack, though not of actually knowing about the plans beyond sending some threatening letters, and was summarily banned from figure skating for life.

With no education and no way to support herself without figure skating, Tonya tried to cash in on her fame in any way possible, including acting in a low budget movie, starting a band that failed after one gig, and trying professional women's boxing for a time. Meanwhile, her ex-husband Jeff, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his involvement, got by via the sale of a sex tape the pair had made when they were married. Hated and reviled, the punchline of countless jokes, she disappeared back into the redneck world from which she had emerged, a world of drunken brawls and doing whatever you have to in order to get by. For a moment she had been so close to achieving everything, only to fall back to Earth, dragged down by the world in which she was raised.