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The Portlandian, the Internet's premier source of Tonya News

February 16, 2011 Edition - SPECIAL TRIPLE AXEL EDITION
(C) 2011 Portland Ice Skating Society

Welcome to the first edition of The Portlandian for 2011. We've 
chosen today to put out an issue because today marks a very 
special day for Tonyaphiles.

But first, an invitation. As you may be aware, some U.S. media 
have declared February to be a Sarah Palin-free month. Well, if 
you're a Saraholic already suffering Palin withdrawal symptoms, 
we've got a suggestion: become a Tonyaphile instead. Because if 
Palin is heroin, Tonya is the methadone.

Long before anyone on the "Outside" (as Alaskans call the rest of 
the world) had ever heard of Sarah Palin, Tonya was doing the 
whole outdoors redneck-girl, hunting, fishing & shooting thing. 
And she could probably sink a caribou at a hundred meters without 
the need for six takes as well.

It always pays to stick with the genuine original. Heck, maybe a 
reality series called "Tonya Harding's Oregon" wouldn't be a bad 


Not Sgt. Pepper, but something far more important.

On this day in 1991, Tonya accomplished what every real 
Tonyaphile knows is her greatest skating achievement: she became 
the first American woman to land a Triple Axel jump in a skating 
competition (a feat that had previously been accomplished by only 
one other woman, Midori Ito of Japan) at the U.S. figure skating 
Nationals in Minneapolis. In doing so, she not only won the 
contest but also achieved the first perfect technical score 
recorded at that event in 18 years. 

Skating in her Long Program to an eclectic medley of musical 
numbers consisting of the theme from Tim Burton's "Batman" film, 
"Send In The Clowns" from Sondheim's "A Little Night Music" and 
Tone Loc's "Wild Thing", Tonya leapt into the air 45 seconds into 
her routine. When she landed, she realized she had vaulted into 
skating history. E.M. Swift of Sports Illustrated noted that by 
the time a now ecstatic Tonya finished her program she "had 
landed seven triples; they came in six different varieties, 
everything from loop to Lutz. The standing ovation lasted for 45 
seconds, and seven of the nine judges gave Harding higher scores 
than they had given (Kristi) Yamaguchi".

You can recapture that historic moment thanks to YouTube:

It was not actually the first time that Tonya had landed the 3-
axel in a skating contest: she did it twice at the Redwood 
Classic competition in Redwood CA in 1986 and then again in 1987 
(and also at an exhibition there in 1988), but the USFSA once 
gain ripped her off because the Redwood events weren't official 
USFSA sanctioned events so remain unrecognized:

Tonya would later land the Triple Axel three more times in 
competition, at Worlds in Munich, Germany the next month and 
then in both programs at Skate America in Oakland, CA later that 
year. It would take until 2005 for another U.S. woman, Kimmie 
Meissner, to repeat Tonya's achievement, and even that was 
controversial with many observers arguing that Kimmie's jump was 

Tonya has since performed the Triple Axel on Inside Edition in 


Tonya's accomplishment lives on in unexpected places. The 
recent movie "Tron: Legacy" features a line in which a character 
is described as "doing a Triple Axel off the roof of a building". 
Why a Triple Axel, and not a triple Lutz or Salchow? Because 
Triple Axel is the only skating jump that the average non-
skating-fan has heard of. And that's due entirely to Tonya.

The USFSA may have taken away Tonya's 1994 title. But they can 
never take away her achievement of the Triple Axelxel.


A short item by Kerry Eggers on Tonya's pregnancy appeared in the 
Portland Tribune recently, and was heavily recycled by other 

    Tonya Harding is going to be a mom. The former figure 
    skater/pugilist and her husband, Joseph Price, are expecting
    "any time," she says.

    It's a boy, and the first child for Tonya, 40, who says she 
    is "super excited."


A new performance of the Tonya rock opera that premiered in 
Portland three years ago was recently staged in Boston, a region 
not noted for its Tonya sympathies. There were three perform-
ances, from Jan 31st to Feb 2nd:

And conversely to what you'd expect from deep in the heart of 
Nancyland, there seems to be little in the comments section 
that's anti-Tonya - in fact, the vast bulk of them actually seem 
to be more critical of Nancy. It seems she's gone off the boil 
with alot of the locals if these comments are typical of people 
in the Boston area.

Here's a direct link to the theater, with a great poster, by the 

Kristen Sergeant, who played Tonya in the original chamber opera
version, turns to the dark side this time and plays Nancy. Tonya 
is played by Darcie Champagne (would that be a great name for a 
porn star or what?) who says she has:

   "totally fallen in love with Tonya Harding in preparing for 
    this role. In researching Tonya's life, I have been 
    incredibly inspired by her strong will and resilience. So 
    while people may expect to be on 'team Nancy' or 'team 
    Tonya,' seeing this production will provide a deeper insight. 
    Audience members just may surprise themselves with whose team 
    they are actually on."

This one has a lengthy (5 minute) interview with two of the show's

Quite alot about how the show is sympathetic to Tonya. And here's 
an interview with Kristen Lee Sergeant, who plays Nancy:

"Tonya" was spotted at a charity event raising money for an arts 
group in Houston recently:

'Bad guys' raise dollars for a good cause

  "Disgraced celebrities, shamed swindlers and assorted ne'er-do-   
   wells were spotted at La Colombe d'Or Mansion, where chairs    
   Allison and David Ayers, Shannon Hall and Marcus Sloan, and    
   Cabrina and Steven Owsley threw a costumed Black Ball of ill    

   Guests came dressed as a victim or perpetrator of their 
   favorite scandal, from the Milli Vanilli lip-synching lawsuit 
   (Michael Landrum and Pepper Paratore) to Tonya Harding's 
   takedown of Nancy Kerrigan (Marita Fairbanks and Rainey 
   Knudson). The affair was all in the name of a worthy cause: 
   honoring Meg and Nelson Murray while funding the Fresh Arts 
   Coalition, a collaborative of small and midsize Houston arts 
   organizations, and Glasstire, the state visual-arts website of 

There's a pretty good photo of "Tonya" & "Nancy" as well - at 
least they put a good effort into getting the costumes right.


Tonya turns up in the strangest places. Here she is singing the
Beatles "Let It Be" with a whole pile of other celebs (thanks to 
a bit of help from the computer wizards):

The thing is a promo for the fourth season of a Norwegian show 
called "Gylne Tider" ("Golden Ages"), in which three Norwegian 
guys track down various celebrities from their youth in the 80's 
& 90's. The promo is quite remarkable for the galaxy of stars it 
assembles - in addition to Tonya (who turns up at 1:21 and can be 
glimpsed several times in the background) are Katarina Witt, Huey 
Lewis, Kelly McGillis (Top Gun), Philip Michael Thomas (who, 
oddly, looks exactly as he did in Miami Vice 25 years ago), Terri 
Nunn (Berlin), Roger Moore, the late Leslie Neilson, Lou Ferrigno 
(The Incredible Hulk), Boyzone, Kathleen Turner, pretty much 
anybody who was in an Adrian Lyne movie in the 80's (such as 
Glenn Close & Mickey Rourke), David Faustino (Bud Bundy in 
"Married With Children"), 70's spaghetti western actor Bud 
Spencer, stars of "Twin Peaks", "Cheers", "LA Law", "Falcon 
Crest", "Beverley Hills 90210" and some English shows like 
"Bergerac" and "Allo Allo" which most Americans won't have heard 
of, the surviving half of Milli Vanilli (meaning that at least 
Tonya is not the most infamous person in the clip) and tons more 
- over 50 in all.

I've been informed by Tor Weibye of Eventyrplassen Vannforelaget 
(a community group in Norway that has Tonya as its mascot) that 
the third episode features Tonya. We're trying to get hold of a 
copy of it. 

And in case you wondered, the Milli Vanilli guy is lip 


In a quiet shopping mall in Tucson, Arizona last month, a local 
congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, prepared to do a meet and 
greet with her constituants. But what was scheduled to be a 
routine political rally soon turned into a scene of carnage.

In a scene reminiscent of something from Martin Scorsese's film 
"Taxi Driver", 20 year old Jared Lee Loughner pulled a gun, and 
seconds later 6 people were dead, and a dozen others seriously 
injured, including Congresswoman Giffords.

The blood had barely dried on the ground in Tucson before the 
MainStream Media were out to find a scapegoat from this appalling 
atrocity. They quickly decided that their story would be this: 
that Loughner had been motivated by the "violent rhetoric" of the 
so-called "Tea Party" movement, a grass-roots campaign against 
big government that has been steadily gaining steam in the U.S. 
in recent months. Within hours, they had located what appeared to 
be the "smoking gun" (if you'll pardon the analogy) connecting 
the two: a map on a website belonging to the Alaskan politician 
everybody loves to hate, Sarah Palin, a well-known tea party 
favorite. The map showed what appeared to be the crosshairs of a 
gun sight located over the districts of 20 politicians that Palin 
supporters were hoping to retake in upcoming elections, including 
that of Giffords. Surely this was positive proof that Palin and 
her fellow "teabaggers" had bloodstains on their hands?

However, almost immediately this story ran into trouble. As the 
days passed and more information about Loughner became available, 
several things became obvious:

- Loughner's beef with Giffords went back too at least 2007 when 
she flipped him off at a campaign meeting in reply to a bizarre 
question he asked her. This is well before the formation of the 
Tea Party and in an era when only a handful of people in the 
Lower 48 had ever heard of Sarah Palin.

- there was absolutely no evidence that Lougghner had ever seen 
Palin's "crosshairs" map, or had any interest in the Tea Party at 
all. Indeed, his politics, what little of them that made sense, 
seem to be diametrically opposed to those of the Tea Party: for 
instance, he had a link to a video of a masked figure, possibly 
himself, burning an American flag, hardly the sort of thing a 
teabagger would condone. His reading list ran the gamut from "The 
Communist Manifesto" to "Mein Kampf" to the "Wizard of Oz" and 
his political views were mostly tinfoil-hat stuff about the 
government controlling "grammar" and a desire to return to the 
gold standard. The picture that emerges is one of a sad young man 
suffering from an almost textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia. 
About the only things missing to complete the image of Loughner 
as a total whack job was a boxed set of Jodie Foster movies and 
the obligatory Marilyn Manson tracks on his iPod.

- the "violent rhetoric" that the Tea Party  were accused of using 
wasn't exclusive to them. Democrats had also used similar gun-
laden imagery in maps, and inflammatory rhetoric like the 
President's invitation that "if they bring a knife, we bring a 
gun". Left-wing website Daily Kos had also used bulls-eyes in an 
anti-Giffords posting in 2008.

By the end of the week, the wheels were starting to thoroughly 
fall off the LameStream Media's bus. Even Palin's harshest 
critics weren't buying their snakeoil. Typical comments would be 
something like "I think Palin's a moron, but... there's no way 
you can pin this on her". A survey taken by Mediacurves showed 
that something like 60% of Americans felt Palin and the Tea Party 
had little or nothing to do with the massacre in Tucson. It 
should be noted that this is well above the 10% or so of 
Americans who would vote for Palin as President, so this shows 
the general public wasn't buying the snakeoil either.

The reason why we're telling you all this is simple: it's pretty 
much a repeat of exactly what happened in 1994 with Tonya, and is 
a perfect demonstration of the problem with the media today. As 
baseball great Yogi Berra would put it, "it's like deja-vu all 
over again".

The problem is that these days the media isn't interested in 
merely giving you "just the facts, ma'am" - today there has to be 
a story or "narrative" to use the current trendy jargon. The 
problem is that real life doesn't necessarily fit into a tidy 
narrative, and often they get it wrong. So the media manipulates 
the facts to fit their story, not the other way around. In 
Tonya's case, the narrative was "talentless white trash bitch 
resorts to sabotage in order to beat her superior wholesome 
rival". Facts were ruthlessly distorted in order to make them fit 
the media's predetermined story. Of course, that's far easier 
than going after the real sporting bad guys: the dopers and the 
dull grey men in dull grey suits in the IOC, FIFA and other large 
sports bodies who cover up the doping, fix sports events, and 
take bribes to determine who gets the next Olympics or World Cup.

Blaming the Tea Party for the actions of Jared Loughner is about 
as logical as blaming the Beatles for the actions of Charles 
Manson or blaming Martin Scorsese for those of John Hinckley. In 
fact, it's even less logical as unlike in those cases there's no 
proven link. It's just a way to sell papers and distract from the 
real issue, in this case, how to deal with the mentally ill. Just 
as blaming Tonya for the Kerrigan incident was a way of raising 
ratings and distracting from the REAL issue in sport - corruption 
and doping. Who cares if the truth becomes roadkill on the way?

As another famous politician, Ronald Reagan, would have said, 
"There they go again".


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