2014 Sochi Olympic Journal #4: Flashback 20 years – My Time With Tania Harding


I read that 20 years ago today, Jeff Gilooly and his sidekick whacked Nancy Kerrigan on the knee as she screamed, “why me!?”

A couple of months later I was at the Olympic village in Lillehammer and new stories were breaking daily including more and greater suspicion that Tania may have had a role in the affair. I had met Nancy on a few occasions and was on friendly terms with her, but it seemed impolite to even inquire about the matter. 

The Olympic village is a safe haven with TV’s, lounges, food, and even massage and physical therapy available 24/7. After a tough workout I decided to take advantage of the massage and entered the physical therapy area which featured dozens of massage tables in pairs each set facing one TV on a cart. I stripped down into just a towel and laid face down as the therapist began working on my calves and hamstrings. I watched Eurosport coverage of skiing with a bit of glazed indifference and tried to relax. At some pont as I turned my head to the right, I noticed someone had joined me on the second table. I knew it was a girl because of two towels and a pony tail, but had no idea who it was. 

Just then two things happened. First the girl on the table next to me turned her head and I recognized the visage of none other than Tania Harding. Just as that was sinking in another thing happened – on the TV, louder commentary intruded overtop the skiing that caused a flush of embarrassment to course through my veins, “Breaking news on the Nancy Kerrigan – Tonia Harding affair – new evidence that suggests possible knowledge or even tacit approval by Tania Harding for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.” I was mortified. For some reason I felt like a voyeur – like I had intruded into someone else’s private and embarrassing affair that had made its way into the light of day and I began to subtly turn my head the other direction. 

The movement of my head along with the announcement caught Tonia’s attention. She caught my eye and I wanted to melt into the massage table I was so embarrassed. But what she said next I’ll never forget. Even as she began to speak her eyes moved over to the right side of the TV where the remote control was – just inches from my right hand. Her eyes returned to mine with excitement and not even the remotest hint of embarrassment. She then says to me, “Turn it up!  Turn it up! – I want to hear this!”

And THAT was my time with Tania. 

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5 responses

  1. 2004. Greece. I’m walking through the Sports Med section of camp U.S.A. in the Village. I hear a ruckus cheer coming from the massage room. I duck in to see that everyone is glued to the t.v. where Shane Hamman just complete a big lift. Awesome! I’m going to stop and watch for a bit.

    “I’ve got a table open over here.” says one of the therapists. So I take the opportunity. As I make my way over I note that there is a tall blond on the table next to me. But she’s facing the other direction. So I don’t think much of it.

    That is, until I’m good and comfortable and the blond turns her head to face me. And there, practically within arms reach and looking straight at me, is none other than Jenny Finch. And for a few seconds I am literally rendered speechless. Which is awkward and embarrassing because she has just said something to me and I don’t have the slightest clue what it was.

    Either she is exceedingly accustomed to and gracious in such instances or I recovered like a champ, because the feeling vanished and we had a nice little conversation. Of which I remember nothing! All I really remember was the moment that she moved her hand into view and I saw the giant diamond rock on her finger. And not that I ever thought I had a chance anyway, but it’s never fun having your fantasy smashed and obliterated.
    And THAT was my time with Jenny.

    I just HAD to share. I was laughing all the way through your story and couldn’t believe how remarkably similar and yet so different our experiences were.

    Have fun in Sochi. I’ll be looking forward to your posts throughout.


  2. Wow – almost identical – but I think your story is better than mine Craig! Hilarious. I guess maybe I’ll have to post my Katerina Witt run-ins next.


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