The Great Skating Swindle
How Can I Help Tonya?
If AIDS was skating's "Dirty Little Secret" then the shabby treatment of Tonya Harding is "The Great Skating Swindle".
Tonya is being swindled out of her right to earn a decent living doing what she's good at. And skating fans are being swindled out of the opportunity to see one of the greatest skaters of all time perform for them in public.
It's time for the USFSA to put up or shut up. If they believe that they have evidence that Tonya Harding was intimately and voluntarily involved in planning the attack on Nancy Kerrigan they should make their report public and turn it over to the Multnomah County DA or the FBI. If they don't, then they should drop their ridiculous life ban, as four years is more than adequate atonement for Tonya's only proven crime of hindering prosecution. Failure to do either will just confirm what we all suspect - that the REAL reason for the USFSA's position is elitism and snobbishness and has nothing to do with "sportsmanship".
If you agree that Tonya has been given a raw deal and want to help, the best way is to make sure others in the skating community know it. There are alot of us "Tonyaphiles" out there - the 4,500 people who turned out at Reno proves that - but we are mostly hidden because of the stigma that still surrounds Tonya. It's time to get out of the closet and into the skating rinks. The first thing you can do is to write to the USFSA, and to skating magazines, skating promoters and others of influence in the skating establishment and let them know that it's time to cut the self-righteous crap and let Tonya rejoin her colleagues in her rightful place on the ice. A list of addresses, both snail and e-mail, is at the end of this page. Also, post your views to Internet newsgroups such as rec.sport.skating.ice.figure as well - many influential people hang out there (including senior officials of the USFSA).
A few suggestions about what to write:
Be civil. Much as the USFSA deserves a good bollocking, it won't score any points with them. A logical, well argued, literate case will gain far more respect than a rant by someone who appears a few rotations short of a triple axel.
Use your own words. A bunch of identical form letters looks like what it is - a contrived letter writing campaign by a small group of people trying to look like a bigger group than they really are. By all means use the ideas here for inspiration, though.
Avoid Nancy-bashing. Just because you like one skater doesn't mean you have to hate the other - that's the way the media may want to depict it but we don't have to play it their way. The real issue is Tonya versus the skating establishment, not Tonya versus Nancy. There is even the danger that you could be interpretted as trying to justify or excuse the knee bashing. No genuine Tonyaphile promotes kneecapping.
If you post to any of the skating newsgroups, avoid getting into arguments about technical stuff. It's probably irrelevant, and unless you know what you're talking about, you'll end up looking like a pratt - these guys know what they're talking about. It's much safer (and much more effective) to concentrate on the injustice angle - this is an issue of justice, not skating. You can do this even if you can't tell one end of an ice skate from another.
Letters, e-mails and faxes are more effective than petitions. A letter has more thought put into it and cannot be so easily dismissed.
After much in-depth research by the Special Duties Section of the Portland Ice Skating Society we have put together the following list of movers and shakers in the skating world that you can write to to lobby for Tonya's return to skating:
Places to write to:
The United States Figure Skating Association was the outfit that booted Tonya out of Eligible skating. They can be contacted at:
United States Figure Skating Association
20 First Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80906
The International Skating Union (ISU) governs Olympic (or "eligible") skating:
International Skating Union
Chemin de Primerose 2
Professional Skaters Association. The PSA represents both teaching and performing skaters.
PO Box 5904
Rochester, MN 55903
1821 2nd Street SW
Rochester, MN 55902
"The Professional Skaters Association (PSA) is an organization of ice skating professionals engaged in the instruction, training and performance of ice skating. Formed in 1938, this non-profit association strives to form a cohesive body of all professional ice skaters for the benefit and advancement of figure skating. It is the only organization in the U.S.A. devoted exclusively to the figure skating professional."
"Our 3,500 members worldwide include professional instructors who teach pupils from recreational and beginning level skaters, to National, World and Olympic competitors. Every U.S.A., World and Olympic coach is a member of the PSA. World renowned performing professionals, eligible skaters, rink owners, managers, business associations and skating fans also take pride in PSA membership."
International Figure Skaters Association
"There is good news for all skaters! (In 1995) at Worlds in Birmingham, the skaters founded an association for themselves. There had been talks over the years that there is a need to get skaters together to talk about ideas, needs and problems in our sport. In Birmingham the time seemed right. After the "Prize Giving" all of the participants were asked to stay and the idea of forming an association was presented. The skaters agreed and were eager to join in.
"The name was decided to be: "International Figure Skaters Association (IFSA) ". The association is open to all figure skaters, eligible as well as ineligible. Its purpose is to strengthen all skaters."
"The main goal of the association is to get the skaters voices to be heard. It will be the forum to discuss our sport and its future development. As today's skating world changes rapidly, it is important that the sport will develop according to the needs of today's athletes. Because skating is an important part of our life, we should be interested in its future."
This home page and e-mail address seems to be the only contact info we could dig up:
European Professional Skating Coaches Association
Dr. Sepp Schoenmetzler
AMERICAN SKATING WORLD
1816 Brownsville Rd.,
Pittsburgh, PA 15210-3908
BLADES ON ICE
P.O. Box 90865
Tucson, AZ 85752-0865
INTERNATIONAL FIGURE SKATING
44 Front Street, Suite 280
Worcester, MA 01608
GLINT - a figure skating 'zine!
28 Roxanne Cres.
M1V 4H6 Canada
EISSPORT MAGAZIN - German skating magazine (apparently Tonya has a bit of a cult following in Germany). Address is the same as for European Professional Skating Coaches Association (above).
Dr. Sepp Schönmetzler
Dünnwalder Str. 46 - 48
1730 O'Farrell, 808
San Francisco, CA 94115
Christine Brennan, author of the highly acclaimed skating book "Inside Edge" and a journalist for the "Washington Post" has regularly stated she believes Tonya should be allowed to resume skating. Nor does she have much time for the USFSA hierarchy after a clumsy attempt to ban her from their press conferences in 1996. Let her know you agree with her.
The Washington Post
1150 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20071
Tom Collins runs the Campbell's Champions on Ice tour (formerly known as the Campbell's Soups World Tour of Figure Skating Champions) in the US.3500 W. 80th Street
IMG (International Management Group) - big sports talent agency that also organizes skating events (did someone say conflict of interest?). Agents representing skaters work out of either the Toronto or NYC offices. The Cleveland office produces "Stars on Ice" http://www.starsonice.com/img - a big US skating tour that was devised by Scott Hamilton.
One Erieview Plaza
Cleveland, OH 44114
Dick Button - the granddaddy of skating promoters and an influential figure in skating. Runs the Pro championships that used to be held at Landover. Has made some sympathetic noises about Tonya in the past.
Candid Productions Incorporated
250 W.57th Street #1818
New York, NY 10107
Phone: (212) 581-9450
Fax: (212) 581-9373
Mike Burg - one of a new breed of promoters that came in in the mid '90's to cash in on the skating boom that the Tonya & Nancy incident caused. In addition to being Tara Lipinski's agent, he was the main guy behind the "Ice Wars" series. He can be found at:
Edge Marketing & Management
1808 East Boulevard
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: (704) 335-0051
Fax: (704) 335-0243
Needless to say, other suggestions as to where to write are welcome.
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