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 as well - many influential people hang out there (including senior officials of the USFSA).

A few suggestions about what to write:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Places to write to:

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:

Skating Magazines & Journalists:

Skating Promoters:

Needless to say, other suggestions as to where to write are welcome.

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© 1998 Portland Ice Skating Society. Last updated: 26 June 1998

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