Heard the story of the disgraced US figure skater Tonya Harding? You soon will, thanks to upcoming dark comedy I, Tonya, which sees Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie play the titular athlete.
However, the first teaser for the biopic doesn’t give much away: we simply see Robbie stamp out a cigarette before wowing the crowd on the ice rink, a sequence scattered with shots of police sirens and knives being drawn.
So, what’s actually the story of the skater? Harding was one of America’s most successful winter sportswomen, winning the US Figure Skating Championships and World Championships in 1991. She was also the second woman (and the first American woman) to complete a triple axel jump in competition.
However, public memory of her is anchored to the events of January 6th 1994. Shortly before the Olympic team-qualifying US Championships that day, Nancy Kerrigan – one of Harding’s competitors – was attacked by Jeff Gillooly, Harding’s then-husband. A media frenzy followed, with Harding accused of being behind the severely bruised leg that forced Kerrigan out of the competition.
Harding eventually pleaded guilty for her part in the conspiracy, avoided jail time, but received three years’ probation, 500 hours of community service, and a $160,000 fine. She was also forced to withdraw from the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships and resign from the United States Figure Skating Association.