Retrospective: Nancy vs. Tonya


This month in The Believer, Sarah Marshall takes a look back at figure skating in the 90’s. Particularly the stifled rivalry between US ice princesses Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Marshall’s perspective is not unique but it’s beautifully thorough. She examines the figure skating business like a true heart-broken fan – yearning for Kerrigan’s lost reparations yet also grieving a sport that has thrown away its potential to empower its skaters both socially and politically.

…in a sport where women are sometimes rewarded more for salability than skill; in a sport where gender roles are policed so rigidly, on and off the ice, that Tonya Harding, a petite, blond, white woman, was somehow butch enough to register as a threat to skating’s femininity—

Julie Morse lives in San Francisco and is a poetry teacher. She can be found @JulieMorse16. More from this author →