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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
December 31, 2005 Edition - NEW YEAR'S EVE EDITION
(C) 2005 Portland Ice Skating Society
We hope that Tonya and her fans had a Merry Christmas and look
forward to the New Year.
There's not been an awful lot of Tonya news lately (though that
may change as the Winter Olympics approaches), so here's a round-
up of a few Tonya-related odds & ends to finish the year off,
plus a few skating developments and a review of a recent book
that may be of interest:
GSN TO RUN TONYA DOCUMENTARY
The Game Show Network (www.gsn.com) will commence airing a new
series in January entitled "Anything to Win" that will explore
people who have gone to extreme lengths to reach the top in some
particular field. Some are those who have done so by legal means
(e.g. Arnold Schwarzenegger, lawyer Johnnie Cochran) but others
are scandals, and one of the shows will be about Tonya.
The series premieres Tuesday, January 10 at 9:00PM ET/PT with a
special two-hour episode on Rosie Ruiz and the Boston Marathon
scandal. The other 12 one-hour episodes will air at the same time
slot, with the encore screenings during the week. The date of
screening for the Tonya episode has not yet been announced.
The shows are described as a blend of A&E's "Biography" and E!'s
"True Hollywood Story."
"We wanted to look at competitors ranging from the famous to the
infamous," Rich Cronin, president and CEO of GSN is quoted a
saying in a Boston Globe article. "Their life story had to
involve controversy that was widely known. We examine the story.
Many people don't know Tonya's beginnings, how she was always
driven to succeed; all they know [of] Ruiz is if indeed she
didn't run the Marathon, how did she cross the finish line?"
Whether this will be fair to Tonya, who knows, even if one of the
producers is a guy called Harding. If Tonya hasn't been
interviewed for this then we're skeptical that it will be.
Nevertheless, the show sounds like it's worth a look if you have
access to this channel.
A TALE OF TWO AXELS
Mao Asada won't be at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Turin,
because at 15 she's too young. But she did deliver a great
Christmas present to skating fans when she became the first woman
to land two triple axels in the same program. In her long program
at the Japanese Nationals on Dec. 25, she opened with a triple
axel, then followed it with a triple axel in combination with a
double toe loop.
Asada, who has been doing triple axels since she was twelve, says
her next goal is to do a jump with four turns. "I also want to do
a quadruple jump," she said. She is coached by Machiko Yamada,
who also trained Midori Ito and Yukari Nakano, two other triple
This latest achievement, along with the landing of a triple axel
by the USA's Kimmie Meissner earlier this year, just underlines
how far ahead of her time Tonya was in achieving a jump that only
now, over ten years on, is starting to work its way into the
ladies' programs. Could this be a by-product of the new Code of
Points scoring system, that apparently favors more jump-laden
programs? And could we be seeing one at the Olympics?
NANCY CLUBS A SEAL
Shane "Hit Man" Stant, the guy who carried out the infamous whack
heard round the world, was back in court recently - though this
time it was at his own instigation.
Stant (apparently having watched too many Steven Seagal movies)
has decided he wants to be a US Navy SEAL. Unfortunately for him
the SEAL's won't take on anybody who has a serious criminal
record, so earlier this month he was back in court asking a judge
to wipe his convictions for the Kerrigan assault.
"I feel like this is something I really want to do. I want to
serve my country," said Stant, who now works in sales in Southern
California and has kept out of trouble since the 1994 incident.
Prosecutors opposed the move, saying Stant's crime was too
serious to erase, and the judge agreed, refusing his request.
Perhaps he was also influenced by a letter from Nancy Kerrigan
herself, in which she expressed the view that it would be unfair
if Stant's felony charge was "swept under the carpet" because she
wrote, "...the attack by Mr. Stant and his cohorts remains
something that I must live with on a regular basis."
A disappointed Stant felt it is unfortunate he's still paying for
his crime. "We all make mistakes. We make bad decisions," Stant
was quoted by KOIN news as saying. "I think people should have a
chance to redeem themselves. You make a mistake, you can't be
"When you're open to doing something like I've done, it means
you're open to other things. I'm really lucky I'm not in prison.
I'm lucky I'm not dead. I'm really blessed in that way. I've
learned a lot from that. I'm a wiser man today than I was
yesterday. I'm trying to use it the best I can," Stant said.
And we agree with the judge's decision to deny his request.
Something would be badly wrong when the guy who actually wielded
the club gets his record wiped while as Tonya, who at most had
only a peripheral after-the-fact connection to the crime, has to
deal with this every day. If she has to has to put up with being
stained with this incident for the rest of her life, then so
As for his future, here's an idea: we understand that he's half
Hawaiian and half Native American and has a liking for martial
arts. So we think his best chance is to hope they decide to do a
remake of "Billy Jack", as he'd be a shoe-in for the part.
NOLAN IN COURT
Another guy also booked for a date with a judge is Tonya's former
room-mate Christopher Nolan. Nolan was arrested back in October
after an altercation with Tonya at her house resulted in police
being called. Nolan will stand trial January 17th on charges of
assault. The 27 year old Nolan had pleaded not guilty to the
charges at Clark County District Court earlier this month and was
freed with instructions to stay away from Tonya and from alcohol.
THE T-FILES: PART 2 - THE SKATING IS OUT THERE
We continue our series about sources for footage of Tonya's
skating, much of which has never been issued on commercial DVD or
VHS. Last issue we gave information about a site where it was
possible to download files of Tonya skating. This issue we look
at another source - skating relating web boards.
SkatingVideos is a board that is entirely dedicated to trading
video files of figure skating. In fact they even have permanent
threads running that are dedicated to particular skaters,
including one for Tonya:
Files are uploaded by users to a file storage service called
yousendit.com. There they stay for either 7 days or 25 downloads
before they are deleted. The link to the uploaded file is then
posted to the board.
The pros: heaps of files, many of which don't seem to be widely
available anywhere else. You don't need to be a member to
download. And the some of the files are of quite high quality.
Cons: yousendit.com seems to be very unreliable, particularly if
on a dialup, and even if it does work the files are sometimes
quite big (30 megs) and take ages to download (or upload), so you
really need broadband. In addition, most files seem to be in
Windows Media format which may be hard for some people to play
(e.g. those using Linux). The files also don't stay around long.
Having said this, though, it's certainly worth checking out as
most of Tonya's performances are posted there sooner or later (or
in other threads). We ourselves picked up a rare early 90's
Texaco commercial featuring Tonya from from here.
AT THE BOOKSTORE: "CRACKED ICE - FIGURE SKATING'S INNER WORLD"
Sonia Bianchetti Garbato spent 40 years as a figure skating
official - and was the first woman to hold a senior position at
the International Skating Union - before being forced out by the
ISU's hierarchy for asking too many unpleasant questions. In her
recent book, "Cracked Ice: Figure Skating's Inner World", she
blows the lid off the sleaze, corruption and dirty dealings that
are all part of daily business in the ISU, basically doing for
figure skating what "New Lords of The Rings" did for the
Olympics. Blasting the switch to secret judging as possibly the
worst decision in the ISU's hundred year history, she also
chronicles the rise of the evil Darth Speedy to the head of
skating's Imperial Empire and how he runs the ISU as a fascist
state, rather like Samaranch ran the IOC.
So how does it stack up? Firstly, this is no "Inside Edge": if
you're hoping for juicy details about who's shagged Nicole Bobek
we recommend you try another book, preferably something by
Christine Brennan. In fact, the book is unusual in that despite
being about figure skating there's actually very little about
actual skaters in it at all - it's mostly a behind the scenes
look at the administration side of figure skating.
There are two main themes running through the book: the first is
Ms. Bianchetti's attempts to modernize the rules of the sport, in
particular her successful campaign to abolish Compulsory Figures,
and the second her regrettably much less successful attempts to
clean up corruption within the ISU. The book is divided into two
main sections that largely follow these themes.
The first deals with her time on the Figure Skating Technical
Committee, the body that devises the rules for competitions.
This, to be quite honest, is probably more of interest to the
hard-core skating "nerd" than the casual fan, though if you want
to learn more about how the rules came to be the way they are,
then this is a useful read. And if you've ever wondered what a
"compulsory figure" looks like, there are drawings, and we also
discover such interesting tit-bits as how the "Kiss & Cry" area
got its name.
Then we get to the more juicy stuff with Sonia's elevation to the
ISU executive. Those who've read any of Andrew Jennings' Olympics
books will be left with that "Groundhog Day" feeling - here
there's enough bribery, corruption, backstabbing and double-
dealing to fill several seasons of one of those "Dallas"/
"Dynasty"-type soap operas from the 1980's. In fact some of these
guys would make J.R. Ewing & Alexis Carrington look like
lecturers in good business ethics, with tales of expensive
advertising contracts being awarded to the president's friends
(one of whom, according to Bianchetti, tried to offer her a
bribe), multi-million dollar TV contracts being negotiated
without any lawyers, minutes of meetings being doctored after the
fact, and even of a low-interest loan being given to the
president to buy a house. And this was even before Speedy took
We are also told of how Cinquanta came to be head of the ISU
(there's even a photo of him from back in 1975 which shows he was
actually vaguely good looking once). It seems that the Italian
skating federation decided they wanted an Italian as president,
and figured that Speedy had a better chance of getting the job
than Bianchetti, so they knifed her in the back in order to avoid
the risk of splitting the vote and resulting in a third non-
Italian candidate winning. Particularly interesting is how Speedy
designed the entire "Code of Points" system by himself without
any input from the FS Technical Committee, who first heard about
it in the media, and then used the speedskating votes to ram it
through at the 2002 IOC congress!
The final chapters describe how there was then a systematic
campaign to discredit and smear Bianchetti to get rid of her from
the ISU when she had the cheek to object to this sleazy and
As for Tonya, there's not much about her in the book, though the
author does briefly cover her time in Norway on p172 and praises
her for her courage in skating anyway in Lillehammer despite all
that had happened to her in the previous weeks. We also learn
that the referee at the event was later given Tonya's broken
skate lace along with a t-shirt that had been signed by Tonya
and that other skater, a truly unique skating memento.
If you're a casual skating fan, the book is worth a read to get a
behind the scenes look, though probably not worth buying unless
you can pick up a second-hand copy cheap. If you're a fanatical
skating fan I'd say it's essential reading and deserves a place
on your bookshelf. Only thing missing: as one other reviewer
mentioned, a serious reference work of this type definitely needs
You can order the book via the author's web site at:
Price, including shipping, is €25 (about $US30). U.S. and
Canadian readers can also obtain it from:
This site is cheaper ($26) and also accepts payment in dollars
instead of Euros, saving the hassles of dealing in foreign
currency. Also, be aware that in some early copies page 84 was
accidentally left blank - make sure you enquire about this before
purchasing from other sources.
Ms. Bianchetti Garbato will also be present for personal signings
of the book (which is now also available in Italian and German)
during the Winter Olympics next year.
COMPULSORY FIGURES: JUSTICE AT LAST
Sonia Bianchetti Garbato isn't the only one whose written an
insider's view of the dirty dealings inside skating.
Last issue we wrote about the USFSA's unsuccessful attempt to
shaft Jon Jackson for his involvement in the creation of the now-
defunct World Skating Federation. Jackson has, however, had the
last laugh. Not only was he cleared of any wrongdoing but a few
days ago an arbitrator with American Arbitration Association
awarded him a total of over $US18,000 in costs and attorney's
fees against the USFSA.
The award was based on the fact that the USFSA did not abide by
its own bylaws and rules in its attempt to sanction Jackson.
"Justice prevails" said Jackson after hearing the news, "which is
rare in the figure skating world."
Jackson has set down his experiences in a book, "On Edge:
Backroom Dealing, Cocktail Scheming, Triple Axels, and How Top
Skaters Get Screwed" which is due for release the week of January
9, 2006. It'll make perfect reading during the Winter Olympics.
VISIT THESE GREAT TONYA WEB SITES:
PortIce - http://www.geocities.com/portice
David House - http://www.tonyaharding.org
Charlie Main - http://www.charliesweb.com/tonya/tonya.html
Puppetboy - http://www.tonyaharding.us/tonya/
Valerie Smith - http://www.olywa.net/radu/valerie/LilHam.html
Swan Lake - http://members.tripod.com/~TonyaHarding/index.html
Blades of Gold - http://members.tripod.com/tmhfan/index.html
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