The Whack Heard ‘Round the World




Picture it.  The year is 1994.  Singer Kurt Cobain kills himself, O.J. Simpson kills two people and Steven Spielberg finally wins an Oscar.  The grunge movement in music had numbed the senses of everyone under the age of 30.  Mostly, folks just mulled around drinking bad coffee and dressing suggestively in flannel shirts.  Trust me, I was in the thick of it all.  Suddenly we were all from the outskirts of Portland, listening to Smashing Pumpkins on our personal CD players and most of all, there was the whining.  Oh, how the whining was the mating call of the day-to-day generation Xer.  All this and still no one but spoiled, suburban white girls gave a damn about competitive ice skating.

All that changed on January 6th, 1994.  The normally off kilter women’s skating population went from slightly unbalanced to full-blown batshit crazy bitches on ice in about 13 minutes.  When the dust settled, a goomba was going to jail, a trailer park princess would be banned from competition, her husband would expose his mahoosive penis on videotape, and America’s skating sweetheart would turn out to be just another unhinged brat with a bum knee.  Even Mickey Mouse would get his little red shorts in a twist at the end of it all.  Call it what you will, but the Whack Heard ‘Round the World led to the third most viewed sporting event in history.  It even upended the SuperBowl where my beloved Chicago Bears finally won it all.  In fact only two other events, both SuperBowls, would top the ’94 Olympic ice skating competition in terms of a television audience.

So what exactly was the big hooha in ’94?  Without over complicating the matter, Olympic figure skating prospects, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding were both competing for a spot on America’s team at the U.S. Championships in Detroit, Michigan when big dumb animal and Harding’s bodyguard, Shawn Ekhardt,  took a police baton to Kerrigan’s knee.  In what would become one of the most viewed sports clips around, the next few moments would be captured forever on video with Kerrigan wailing while being treated by paramedics.  The attack was coordinated by Harding’s husband, Jeff Gillooly, and executed by his friends.  Apparently, no one in Gillooly’s plan thought a fat guy hitting a 110 pound girl in the knee would go noticed.  Yet, as happens in the world of sports crimes, the men would eventually pay for the event.  Both Kerrigan and Harding were strangely allowed to compete in the Olympic showdown.  Kerrigan only suffered minor wounds that didn’t impede her performance.  Apparently, the blundering imbecile that Ekhardt was, missed Kerrigan’s kneecap by inches and went to prison for pretty much nothing.  Years later, Ekhardt would die at 40 years old of “natural causes”.

Kerrigan would fall short of victory, netting only a silver medal at the Lillehammer Olympics.  Harding, after blaming a skate malfunction on her awful performance would finish 8th.  Worth mention in the entire mess was that Harding replaced future U.S. skating champ Michelle Kwan on the team.  After the competition, Harding would be banned from amateur competition ever again.  To make matters worse, her newlywed sex tape with Gillooly made its rounds.  Mind you, this was back when Harding didn’t look like the lady that runs the spare radiator counter at the local scrap yard.  She also admitted to obstruction, which made her a criminal at the time.  And as we all learned from the movie Transformers, “criminals are hot”.  Even after the success of the leaked tape, Harding and Gillooly divorced.  The next decade would see Gillooly legally change his name to Jeff Stone, and Harding would get obnoxiously obese while abusing her next spouses.

Tanya Harding, before she morphed into John Goodman

Tanya Harding, before she morphed into John Goodman

So what of sweetheart Nancy Kerrigan?  Kerrigan signed a 2.5 million dollar contract with Disney after the Olys, and was forced to do meet and greets around the Magic Kingdom.  The public would soon learn Kerrigan was only a notch above Harding in a less white trashy wrapper.  Kerrigan would be caught later on tape at a Disney parade telling an actor in the Mickey Mouse costume, “this is so corny.”  Mickey would just shrug it off and kept waving.  More miscues on television would reveal Kerrigan as pretty much an obnoxious jerk and she skulked into sports history right along Harding and her band of bumbling misfits.

The Whack Heard ‘Round the World was thankfully, just a blip on the sporting world timeline.  Women would go on with business as usual, following figure skating as the names of the players would change over the next couple of decades.  Men would go back to not giving a crap about the sport after the potential of seeing Harding’s badonkadonk thundering around the rink in a short skirt diminished.

Had Kerrigan and Harding turned the whole event into an on-ice catfight with REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling” playing on the PA system, things may have been different.  A whole generation of young men may have tuned into figure skating for an entire three weeks instead of just two.  I can certainly say as a less than luke warm fan of the games, I’d shell out some cash for a nice suburban princess hair pulling catfight on the ice.  It would at least distract from what a dick Bob Costas is in viewing this year’s upcoming Winter Olympics.


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Filed under Mishmosh Ranting, Sports

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