Nancy Kerrigan’s life has been defined by about three or four seconds in time.
Forget her grace on ice or her status as one of the most successful American athletes of her time, Nancy Kerrigan’s name, face and in particular, her right leg, will forever be entrenched in the depths of sporting history, not for leg’s dexterity but for instead the moment a police baton connected with it at the hands of a rogue, strange assailant.
Such is the narrative of Oscar-nominated blockbuster I, Tonya. Nancy Kerrigan, a former professional ice skater, was struck down just prior to the 1994 Winter Olympics by a man – under the direction of her fellow competitor Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly – who took the baton to the lower part of her right thigh.
She recovered in time to win a silver medal at the Olympics, though the story became much bigger and more salacious than her talents on ice. It became the story of Tonya – Nancy taking a backseat to her blonde perpetrator – classism and family. It became the story of sport and its all-consuming hold on its biggest talents; the story of a young woman who would do – who did – whatever it takes to win.
Tonya Harding was the most hated woman in America for years. For more than two decades. And then, in 2018, Australian actress Margot Robbie took the story and brought it to life on screen, daring to paint a rounded, sympathetic portrayal of the woman who became the punch line of national jokes for decades. After 24 years, there was a little more nuance to the story. In fact, after 24 years, there was nuance to Tonya; it was like a Hollywood-driven redemption tour, a story she had been waiting so long to tell.
But much like the idea that there is so much more to Tonya Harding than 1994 would have you believe, there is also so much more to Nancy Kerrigan than her quiet presence in the film would lead you to assume.
Nancy Kerrigan, now 48, is a wife and mother-of-three. A year after the Harding attack, Kerrigan married her agent Jerry Solomon. Together, they had Matthew, now 21, Brian, 12 and Nicole, nine.