Published On: Mon, Jan 6th, 2014

This Day in History: Twenty years ago Nancy Kerrigan clubbed in knee, Tonya Harding scandal begins

Ice skating took over the national headlines twenty years ago and sadly, for nothing that happened on the ice.

Tonya Harding spoof parody Weird Al YankovicNancy Kerrigan took center stage on January 6, 1994 when she was clubbed in the right knee with a police baton during a  practice round on the eve of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships at Cobo Arena in Detroit.

Later it was discovered that the assailant was Shane Stant and was planned by rival Tonya Harding’s ex-spouse Jeff Gillooly and his friend Shawn Eckardt.

The incident became known as “The Whack Heard Round the World.”

Some of the attack and its aftermath was caught on camera and broadcast around the world, particularly the now famous footage of attendants helping Kerrigan as she grabs at her knee wailing “Why, why, why?”

Although Kerrigan’s injury forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Championships, her rivals agreed that she merited one of the two spots on the Olympic team.


Kerrigan recovered quickly from her knee injury and resumed her intensive training, winning the silver medal in the 1994 Winter Olympics.

The fame she had acquired from the attack led to further professional opportunities; it was reported that she had already signed contracts for $9.5 million before the Olympic competition began.

Even Weird Al Yankovic got in on the story, including the incident in his parody song “Headline News” – see below

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

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