It was the beginning of 1994 and Nancy Kerrigan was the most popular figure skater in the United States.
She was America’s sweetheart on the ice, the public loved her and advertisers couldn’t give her enough of their money.
But Kerrigan’s illustrious career was about to come under threat.
On the evening of January 6, 1994, Kerrigan and her rival on the ice, Tonya Harding, had just squeezed in one more practice before the US Women’s Championships the next day.
The competition would determine who would represent America in the Winter Olympic Games that year.
Listen: We deep dive on new Netflix show The Sinner, from Jessica Biel’s acting to the major plot hole. (Post continues after audio…)
As Kerrigan was preparing to leave Cobo Arena ice rink she was viciously assaulted by a stranger. The unknown man, who was wearing at black hood at the time of the attack, targeted the kneecap on her landing leg.
The world looked on in horror as the moments before and after the attack were caught on camera. An hysterical Kerrigan was filmed lying on the ground, screaming and crying, and asking ‘Why?’ over and over again.
Luckily, the assailant didn’t break any bones. Kerrigan was left bruised and swollen and she had a severe limp, which meant she wasn’t able to compete in the Championships the next day.
However, her fellow skaters agreed that she deserved the one of the two spots on the 1994 Olympics team despite her injuries.
Harding went on to win the other spot through the competition.
But before the two rivals could compete at the Olympics, it was revealed that Harding was behind the attack on Kerrigan.
Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was charged with hiring a hitman and Harding was found guilty of conspiracy after the fact.
After denying any knowledge of the incident, Harding eventually admitted she found out about the attack after it occurred and failed to take any action.
Gillooly and the two other men sentenced for the crime always claimed that Harding had knowledge of the attack before it happened.
The brutal attack on Kerrigan was planned and it was aimed at crippling Kerrigan and ruining her chances of making it onto the Olympic team.
You see, Harding and Kerrigan had been locked in a fierce competition for years.
In 1991, Harding became the first American woman to land the rare triple axel, earning her a perfect score and first place at the US Figure Skating Championships, while Kerrigan came in third.