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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News
February 23, 2006 Edition - OLYMPIC EDITION
(C) 2006 Portland Ice Skating Society
Welcome back, as we start off another year of Tonya news. We've
news about a fundraising appearance Tonya did, some recent TV
appearances (and an upcoming special), and a special feature on
some critical flaws in the new judging system that makes its
Olympic debut in Torino. Plus we revive the ever (un)popular
"Jayson" awards for poor-quality Tonya reporting, and have info
about a new book with a pro-Tonya mention that blows the lid off
the sleazy world of figure skating judging.
TONYA RAISES MONEY FOR CHARITY
Tonya rounded off the year a visit to Morehead University in
Morehead, Kentucky, on December 1st, where she partook in a fund-
raising event for The People's Clinic, a free clinic serving the
Morehead area. Former world heavyweight boxing champ Jimmy Ellis
and former boxer Tommy Morrison (who starred with Sylvester
Stallone in "Rocky V") also appeared at the event. All three
celebrities signed photographs and posed for pictures with fans
from 6:30 p.m. until about 8 p.m.
Dale Greer, assistant professor of electronic media and organizer
of the benefit event, said "All of these celebrities have come
and volunteered their time. Tonya's been great. She's so
cooperative and nice."
"I am here to help raise money for the clinic. It's an honor to
be here", said Tonya.
"I've worked with a lot of celebrities in my time, but Tonya
Harding was as nice and cooperative as any celebrity I've ever
worked with," Greer said. "She worked tirelessly for three days
promoting the clinic."
The celebrities then went to the nearby Button auditorium where
they engaged in various events including trivia quizzes and
pretend boxing matches with some students. Tonya finished off the
show play-boxing MSU's Homecoming Queen Whitney Dyer and three
other un-named female students. A silent auction of assorted
sports memorabilia, including boxing gloves signed by Muhammad
Ali and Joe Frazier, raised $1380.
Tonya's presence was widely reported, with front page articles in
the New York Times and Washington Post and was the lead item that
day on all four main TV networks. If you're puzzling over why you
don't recall seeing any of the aforementioned news coverage,
that's because we're joking - we made that last bit up and none
of the above news reports of Tonya's visit actually happened. It
goes without saying that because this is news of Tonya doing
something GOOD (and therefore doesn't fit into the standard media
program of depicting Tonya as a selfish, greedy loser who is only
good for a cheap laugh now and again) that it was of course
totally IGNORED by all the major media. In fact the only report
of the visit at all we've come across was in the University's
campus newspaper, the Trail Blazer, which is where the above
information and quotes came from, and even that's now
disappeared, though you can still catch it in Google's cache:
There is one small fly in the ointment of this generally positive
article, however, which contains the statement:
Harding became well known during the 1994 Olympics when she
attacked skater Nancy Kerrigan during a practice session.
Unfortunately, it seems that even when Tonya is reported as doing
something good, they still manage to spoil it by getting it
ANOTHER TONYA CHARITY APPEARANCE CANCELLED
Tonya has had plenty of run-ins with the law over the years, but
one appearance by her - in an event that would have seen her in a
rather different battle with law and order - has been cancelled.
The appearance would have seen Tonya participate in an event
known as "Guns 'n' Hoses", which pits cops against firefighters
in a charity fundraising boxing match in Jacksonville, Florida on
March 11. Tonya would have been boxing against Cristina "Rosie"
Rosario, a local police officer. However Tonya has pulled out,
because at 170 pounds she is overweight for this event.
TONYA ON "ET" & "THE INSIDER"
The Torino Winter Olympics has resulted in alot of media
attention for Tonya, with her making several appearances recently
on "Entertainment Tonight" and its sister show "The Insider". In
one ET episode Tonya was subjected to a full "extreme makeover".
More details, and some video clips, can be found at the links
It is also revealed that Tonya's weight gain in recent months has
been caused by a prescription drug Prednisone that she was
prescribed for pneumonia several months ago and that she is
trying to slim down. "I've got another 15 to 20 pounds to go,"
Tonya has also been doing skating coverage for "The Insider"
during the Olympics and may be on tonight.
MORE ON TONYA'S GSN APPEARANCE.
Last issue we reported on a new series about great achievers that
will feature Tonya in one episode. Originally scheduled for
February 28, GSN (formerly known as the Game Show Network) will
now screen the Tonya episode of its "Anything To Win" series on
March 12. More details can be found at the show's official page
The episode is an hour long and a source close to Tonya says that
she participated in the show and that she has been promised a
fair hearing. We have also supplied some material, including some
previously unseen photos of Tonya in the months following the
"Whacking", so hopefully this one will turn out to be better than
the usual run-of-the-mill rehash of the events of '94. According
to Tonya, it features her "talking about my life. Where it
started out with my skating, going through the Olympics, how I
overcame all of the obstacles I had to go through and the
transformation of a figure skater into a professional boxer.
Those types of things."
Rumor from inside the Tonya camp is that if the show gets good
ratings it could lead to Tonya having a very bright future with
that network, so be sure to tune in if you can receive this
TONYA TO APPEAR ON "GOOD MORNING AMERICA"
Tonya will also be appearing on "Good Morning America" on Friday,
March 10th, from New York.
THE "JAYSON" AWARDS: WELCOME TO THE TONYADROME
"Portlandian" subscribers might remember that two years ago we
instituted the "Jayson" award for shoddily researched Tonya-
related reporting (named of course, in dishonor of Jayson Blair,
the disgraced New York Times writer who was exposed to be making
up alot of his material). With the Winter Olympics currently on,
there has been a flurry of news reports making references to
Tonya and the events of 1994, many of them wrong to a greater or
lesser degree, so we thought it might be time to resurrect the
"Jayson's" for the most egregious example of poor journalism.
At first we considered giving it to the Trail Blazer guys above,
but given that their article was generally positive about Tonya
we couldn't really do that. Fortunately there was another much
more glaringly obvious candidate. We think that this year's award
has to go to, surprisingly enough, the Canadian Broadcasting
Corporation, for this little gem, which can be found at:
In an attempt to prevent her teammate from competing at the
U.S. national championship, Harding conspired with her husband
Jeff Gillooly to attack and injure Kerrigan. Following
practice one day, Gillooly whacked Kerrigan on the knee with a
metal baton. Harding won the nationals and qualified for the
Olympics, but Kerrigan was given the second spot on the
American team, despite her injury. Ultimately, Kerrigan won
silver in Lillehammer behind the Ukraine's Oksana Bajul.
Given that Gillooly was in Portland when the attack occurred, it
must have been an awfully long baton! It then goes on to say:
After a well-publicized investigation that kept supermarket
tabloids busy for months, Harding pleaded guilty to conspiracy
and was banned for life by the United States Figure Skating
Tonyaphiles have become used to seeing such errors in junky
tabloids, but it's very disappointing to see them being made by
major news outlets such as the CBC, which used to be regarded as
one of the world's most prestigious broadcasters.
Several years ago there was a horror movie made by Canadian
director David Cronenberg about junk TV, entitled "Videodrome".
The film centered around a guy by the name of Max Renn (played by
James Woods), who runs a trashy Toronto cable station that
specializes in sleazy shock-horror programming. We have to wonder
if maybe Max has now taken over the sports department at the CBC
if this is now typical of the quality of their research.
WHISTLEBLOWER'S BOOK INCLUDES PRO-TONYA SLANT
More info has emerged about Jon Jackson's new book about his time
in the USFSA. It's called "On Edge : Backroom Dealing, Cocktail
Scheming, Triple Axels, and How Top Skaters Get Screwed" (which
surely has to take the cake for one of the most long-winded
titles of any skating book), is published by Thunder's Mouth
Press (which has to take the cake for weirdest named publishing
house) and is now available for order.
We've read the book and it's hard hitting stuff: Jackson by and
large names names and doesn't pull punches. He's dug up so much
dirt you'll need a bulldozer to shift it all. In fact, it makes
Brennan's "Inside Edge" sound like it was written by the Speedy
fan club. Most interestingly, he believes that Tonya got a bum
We'll have a full review in the next issue.
COMPULSORY FIGURES: "THE SKATRIX REBOOTED"
With the Winter Olympics now underway in Turin (or Torino if
you prefer), the new computerized judging system that the ISU
has introduced for figure skating known as the "Code of Points"
faces its first major challenge.
Many people have criticized the system both for its secrecy and
its randomness. Now two researchers with mathematical
backgrounds have discovered flaws in the system that would make
the 2000 Florida election results with their hanging chads look
like a model of efficiency and reliability - and must cause
serious doubt as to whether the winners of the competitions in
Turin have anything to do with who actually skated best on the
The first deals with a problem in the computer software used by
the system. George S. Rossano runs the Ice Skating International
site, which contains several in-depth articles about the new
scoring system, and he's discovered a critical flaw in the
software that tabulates the scores:
Essentially the bug relates to the point in the calculations at
which the scores are rounded from three decimal places to one
decimal place. Mathematicians will know that whenever you're
doing calculations any such rounding should take place as late in
the process as possible in order to preserve accuracy. But the
ISU's software now rounds some elements early, thereby
introducing an error that can total up to half a point in some
cases, sometimes working in the skater's favor and other times
against depending on the place in the skater's program that
various elements are performed.
Nor is this the only problem - a second, more fundamental flaw
has been discovered in the one of the key features of the new
system, namely, the random dumping of the scores of several of
the judges from the computation of the results. Supposedly
designed to make judge tampering more difficult it may have a
surprising side effect.
Using the full set of protocols released by the ISU, Yale
University statistician John W. Emerson has recently calculated
that the random selection of judges by the computer can in some
cases significantly alter the results depending on which judge's
marks are selected for inclusion.
Emerson, who featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal
and was interviewed on ABC World News, used data from the
European Women's Figure Skating Competition to show that only 50
of the 220 possible combinations of selected judges would have
resulted in the same ranking of the skaters following the Short
Program as the panel of judges that actually were selected for
inclusion. You can read a summary of his findings in this
and his report in full on the Yale web site:
Of course, all this says nothing about the integrity of the
judges, something that's still highly questionable. The
"Skatefair" blog at:
also has an item from a former ISU judge who confirms that not
only do Emerson's results occur in practice, but also claims that
tossing the high and low marks does not necessarily remove
national bias and that cheating may still be effective even when
the cheater is one of the judges whose marks are tossed.
And what about the sudden replacement of the Ukrainian dance
judge with another, Anastassia Makarova, who was only appointed
as an ISU judge last fall? Could it have something to do with the
fact her mother, Ludmila Mikhailovskaya, is on the ISU's Ice
Dance technical committee? Ukraine, of course, was the country
that gave us bent judge Yuri Balkov. Was the fix in in dance this
time? Was there a plan to give the Italians a gold medal in front
of the home crowd that fell apart when Fusar-Poli and Margaglio
crashed & burned in the Original Dance? Who can tell, now that
the scores are secret? The Skatefair site has plenty of theories.
Rossano and Emerson's findings show that the new judging system
is significantly flawed both by randomness and calculation
errors. It also does nothing to reduce potential corruption and
indeed enhances it by introducing anonymity of the judges. It's
about as useful as a crystal ball or chicken entrails for getting
accurate results. And it totally ignores the real problem, which
is cheating judges, or the real solution, which is life bans for
anyone caught rigging a contest. Skating fans should ponder this
as they watch the Ladies Long Program tonight.
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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