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

June 3, 2016 Edition
(C) 2016 Portland Ice Skating Society

Welcome to the first issue of "The Portlandian" for 2016. This 
year is a special year for Tonyaphiles as it marks the 25th 
anniversary of one of Tonya's most important achievements - the 
landing of her Triple Axel at the 1991 U.S. Nationals in 
Minneapolis in February that year. In doing so, she became the 
second woman in the world (following Japan's Midori Ito) and 
first American woman to accomplish that feat:

Tonya would later successfully land the Triple Axel three more 
times, and all in 1991 - once at Worlds, and two at the 1991 
Skate America competition that Fall. At the latter contest, she 
recorded three more firsts:

- The first woman to complete a triple axel in the short program;
- The first woman to successfully execute two triple axels in a 
  single competition;
- The first ever to complete a triple axel combination with the 
  double toe loop.

No other women would land the Triple Axel in competition until 
Russia's Ludmila Nelidina and Japan's Yukari Nakano at Skate 
America in 2002. No American woman would land it again until 
Kimmie Meissner in 2005.


March saw some exciting news from the wonderful world of Tonya!

Deadline Hollywood reported that Margot Robbie has signed on to 
play Tonya in an upcoming proposed movie that will tell the story 
of The Whack from her point of view:

We have been aware of this project for several months, so we can
confirm it is legit. With a working title of "I, Tonya" it has 
been written by Steven Rogers, whose most recent film, "Love The 
Coopers", was released a few months ago:

There are two reasons to believe that this project will be 
happening. One is the background of the people involved - Rogers 
is a genuine Hollywood screenwriter who has got scripts made into 
actual movies, not just some wannabe, and although he appears to 
be an unlikely candidate to write the definitive Tonya film given 
that his previous work seems to be mostly lightweight rom-coms, 
everything about Tonya's life seems to be unlikely, so the fact 
he's not the obvious choice may mean he's actually the perfect 
choice after all, if you get my drift. Plus, he's from Seattle - 
okay, it's not Portland, but at least it's the same general area 
of the country - so he may be more attuned to the Pacific 
Northwest "vibe" than someone from elsewhere. The news that 
Robbie, one of Hollywood's hot up-and-coming stars, is interested 
in playing Tonya must give it a major shot in the arm as well.

Secondly, we have been in contact with him and he's confirmed 
that he has interviewed Tonya and that his screenplay will be 
based mainly on these interviews. We've also been told that he is 
a serious Tonyaphile with a genuine interest in her story, so 
hopefully his script will do her justice. Let us hope that this 
doesn't end up languishing in "development hell" being kicked 
around from studio to studio for the next 10 years.

No director has been attached so far. Though personally we always 
saw Tonya's life a being a Tarantino type of thing...


It seems that everybody's jumping on the Tonya bandwagon these 
days - first a movie, now a play is in the works:

In spite of the article's title, it's called "T" and sounds like 
it's more about Tonya. New York-based writer Dan Aibel's play is 
described as being "darkly funny and unrelenting" and "explores 
the lengths one will go to for fame", so whether that indicates 
it's pro or anti-Tonya is anyone's guess at this stage. Directed 
by Margot Bordelon (another Margot!), it will have its world 
premiere from September 23 to October 30, 2016 at the American 
Theatre Company in Chicago:!season32/c74i

According to the blurb on the site, "Dan Aibel's plays have been 
developed and/or produced by the Detroit Rep, the Sundance 
Institute, Syracuse Stage, the Blank Theater (Los Angeles), 
Flashpoint Theatre Co. (Philadelphia), the Source Theatre 
(Washington, D.C.) and Outsider's Inn Collective (Seattle). In 
New York he has worked with Page 73, Rattlestick and The New 
Group. His play 'The Meaning of Lunch' was seen in Chicago at 
Stage Left as part of Leapfest 7. A 2014 Sundance Theatre Lab 
fellow, Dan's plays have been published by Smith & Kraus and 
Perhaps it is appropriate that this production comes in the 400th 
anniversary year of the death of William Shakespeare - old Shakey 
would have given his right hand to have had a story like Tonya's 
to work with as raw material. Or, as he would have probably put 
it: "All the world's a skating rink, and all the men and women 
merely skaters".


Shortly after the annoucement of the movie, Tonya herself showed 
up spoofing her own bad-girl image in this promo for the film 
"The Bronze", which stars Melissa Rauch as a foul-mouthed washed-
up gymnast - who basically makes Tonya look like a charm school 
graduate - charged with the task of training her successor (note: 
as you've probably guessed from the aforementioned description, 
this clip contains some fruity language):

There's also a good photo of Tonya from Lillehammer in another 
article on the same site:


On Jan 23rd, Kick Ass Oregon History - the people who ran last 
year's diorama contest - decided to pay tribute to Tonya in a 
unique way: they changed their Facebook profile picture in her 

Given that they failed to give the Tonya diorama the first prize 
it rightfully deserved, we'd say that this is a long overdue act 
of recompense.


Back in March, Matt Harkins and Viviana Olen, the people behind 
our sister organization, the Tonya Harding & Nancy Kerrigan 1994 
Museum in New York, launched a new Kickstarter campaign relating 
to two other 90's icons: they wanted to bring an exhibition of 
paintings of the Olsen Twins avoiding paparazzi photographers to 
their city. The paintings are the work of Laura Collins, who also 
drew a likeness of Tonya for the museum:

We are pleased to report that Matt & Viviana achieved their goal, 
raising almost ten grand for their project, and the exhibition 
ran until May 1st. Check out their Facebook page for details as 
to how it all went:

And on Saturday, Jun, 11 2016 at 8:00 pm Matt and Viviana will be 
releasing "The Olsen Twins Hiding From The Paparazzi" Official 
Exhibit Magazine. There will be special guests, part two of the 
Real Housewives Symposium, and what is described as "general 
museum stuff".


There's been a few new Tonya-related articles that have surfaced 

The first one is from Bustle. Nothing really new here, and does 
get her husband's name wrong (it's Joseph), but even-handed 
towards Tonya and interesting that people are still writing about 
her. It also mentions the 25th anniversary this February of Tonya 
landing the Triple Axel:

Another Bustle article also catches up with Nancy:

It notes that a female rapper by the name of Emma Carroll aka 
"Lil' Freckles" has sampled Nancy's cries from the attack in a 
song - a sure sign that it's become a pop culture landmark of the 

You can find the song, entitled "Classic Case", online without 
too much trouble, but it just sounds like your standard boring 
(c)rap song, with lots of swearing and the Nancy stuff seemingly 
chucked in halfway through at random.

Meanwhile Sarah Marshall, the formerly Portland-based writer 
whose excellent essay "Remote Control" has helped many people re-
evaluate their view of Tonya since it was first published in "The 
Believer" two years ago, has written a new article on maligned 
women of the '90s:

And to cap it all off, there's also another piece of good news: 
Sarah's "Remote Control" article has recently made it into "The 
Best American Nonrequired Reading of 2015", a collection, 
published by Houghton-Mifflin, which according to the blurb 
"compiles the country's best fiction, journalism, essays, comics, 
and humor every year, and introduces a large readership to dozens 
of new writers and publications". So Sarah's groundbreaking Tonya 
article is now getting preserved in a more enduring and 
traditional form (a good old fashioned paper book) so that 100 
years from now people will still be able to read it and it will 
find an audience amongst successive generations of potential 

These people also have a few kind words for Tonya that are worth 


By now, everybody will have obviously heard the tragic news of 
the passing of David Bowie. Bowie was a pioneer of Glam Rock, 
music videos and electronic music. He was a chameleon who 
constantly reinvented his look every few years, so he never went 
out of fashion. Even after he stopped having hits he was ahead of 
the curve, being one of the first artists to put his music 
online. He transcended generations - some of his biggest fans are 
people who were born decades after masterworks like "Ziggy 
Stardust" and "Aladdin Sane" came out.

His influence was everywhere. Even Tonya looks like she's 
channeling his hair and makeup in this image from 1986. It's 
probably unintentional, but it's an example of just how pervasive 
his legacy was that a Portland figure skater was influenced by 
his look without even realizing it:

We've not come across any evidence that Tonya was ever influenced 
by Prince, but like him, she did seem to like the color purple.


Somebody has recently posted this widescreen HDTV footage of 
Tonya's performance at the Olympics, including her disastrous 
Lillehammer free skate, on YouTube: (92-LP) (94-LP)

No, that's not a misprint. This really is genuine high definition 
footage of our Tonya in action, all the way back in 1992 and 94!

"How can this be?", I hear you ask - "Isn't HDTV a new 
invention"? Well, actually no. We tend to think of HDTV as being 
a relatively recent technology, something that has only come 
along in the last ten years or so. However, even as far back as 
the 1940s the Germans and the French were experimenting with Hi-
Def TV of 1000 lines of resolution. The latter country eventually 
settled on an 819 line system - far beyond the 525 lines that was 
the standard in the U.S. until recently - which they operated 
from the 1950s through to the '80s. Another such broadcaster was 
Japan's NHK, which as early as 1988 began satellite transmissions 
of the Seoul Olympics with a system called "MUSE" or "HiVision". 
For the technically inclined, it was an 1125-line system with 
1035 "active" lines and 60 interlaced fields per second - what in 
modern parlance would be called "1035i", very close to today's 
1080p standard. In response the Europeans developed a rival 
system called HD-MAC, which used 1250 lines and 50 fields per 
second, of which 1152 lines were actually displayed on-screen, 
however development was discontinued in 1993.

In addition to HiVision broadcasts, there were also HiVision 
laserdiscs, though only a handful of titles were ever produced in 
the format (ironically, one of them was "Jurassic Park"). A 
variant of VHS known as W-VHS was introduced in 1994 which had 
the capacity to record HiVision signals.

Major sports events rather than movies were the prime target for 
the HD broadcasts. The FIFA soccer World Cup in 1990 and the 
Albertville and Barcelona Olympics in 1992 were covered in both 
the HD-MAC and HiVision systems, and Lillehammer in HiVision 
only. It is from the latter sources that the YouTube footage is 
derived. Nagano even saw experimental 3D HDTV being used.

Ultimately both these systems failed to take off, mainly due to 
the fact that by the mid '90s it was becoming obvious that the 
future of HDTV would be digital and that analog technologies like 
HiVision would be technical dead ends in a few years. Pouring 
further resources into them would be kind of like spending money 
to develop a better quality horseshoe. Another factor was that 
the display technology of the time - the good old cathode ray 
tube - wasn't really up to the job. A CRT set big enough to do HD 
signals justice would probably have taken up half the average 
Japanese apartment-dweller's living room, not to mention have 
been incredibly expensive and in danger of falling through the 
floor from its own weight. It was basically something for rich 
yuppies. As a result, only around 10,000 HiVision sets were in 
service in that country around the time of Tonya's Lillehammer 
skate, and eventually broadcasts in the system were discontinued 
in 2007, supplanted by newer digital technologies.

It was only with the introduction of cheap, lightweight flat 
panel displays in the 21st century that HDTV would finally become 
practical as a mass-market consumer product. But Tonyaphiles 
today can benefit from the legacy of the far-sighted engineers 
who developed this system, which has preserved the work of one of 
the all-time greatest figure skaters in its best quality. Perhaps 
it is fitting that they came from Japan, home of the only other 
lady to land a triple axel at that time, Midori Ito, and a place 
which has always treated Tonya with respect and fairness.

This same channel also has Tonya's 1992 Olys Exhibition, though 
it looks like this is just crummy old regular NTSC not HD. Still 
about the best quality you'll likely see of this in standard def, 

Patch these through to the biggest TV you've got, and crank up the 
volume on the home cinema to "11". Because like Ziggy Stardust, 
Tonya deserves to be played at maximum volume.


At a hockey game recently, a fan of the Detroit Red Wings decided 
to celebrate by throwing a dead octopus on the ice. Apparently 
this has been a tradition amongst Red Wings fans since 1952, but 
this guy made the mistake of doing it at an away game in Boston, 
and the local cops were not amused.

"I would never have thought in a million years that I would get 
arrested for throwing an octopus at a sporting event" said the 

It occurs to us that it is a real pity that this practice has 
never taken off in ladies figure skating. The vision of Tonya 
sitting clutching a bunch of dead octopii in the Kiss & Cry would 
surely have been more interesting than flowers and teddy bears.


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