With the Sochi Winter Olympics opening next month, there has been renewed interest in Clackamas Review Sports Editor John Dennys early news coverage of iceskater Tonya Harding, whose role in the tabloid-fueled Lillehammer Olympics two decades ago riveted the country.
Denny wrote the first-ever article on Harding, in 1976 for the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier, a local newspaper that went out of business in 1992. His news story reported that Harding had an amazing amount of talent with Olympic-level potential, and said it would be a tremendous shame and a loss to the world of ice skating if Harding were unable to continue her practices.
Denny wrote the article because Hardings parents were desperate to get money to continue the 5-year-old Tonyas lessons, and the coach talked up her skills. Harding loved skating so much she would cry when it was time to finish her four-hour practices, and once home in West Linn, she would put on roller skates to continue practicing what she had learned on the rink.
Harding isnt quoted in the article because when Denny asked her questions, she gave short answers. Example: Why do you like skating so much? Because its fun.
The whole time I was talking with her parents, she wanted to continue skating, and then she did a few moves with the direction of her coach when I starting taking photos, Denny recalled.
NBC is working on a special about the 20th anniversary of the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, and the network plans to include Dennys article on Harding and an exclusive Kerrigan interview as part of its coverage starting Thursday, Feb. 6.
Kerrigan won a silver medal and Harding finished eighth in 1994. The U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2004 inducted two-time Olympic medalist Kerrigan, who is now married with three children in North Shore, Mass. Having participated in professional wrestling and reality shows over the past 20 years, Harding is married with one child in Central Oregon.