Put me in Team Tonya. I guess that makes me an army of one.
Yeah: It’s tough to sympathize with the roughneck skater even all these years later. She was never what you’d call likable, and never admitted any role in the idiotic plot to cripple Olympics-rival Nancy Kerrigan — even though, if you believe the new ESPN documentary “The Price of Gold,” the evidence suggests otherwise.
Time never mellowed her, either. In the 20 years since, every time her name came up it was in connection with some tawdry TV appearance, or too much drinking, or ongoing domestic troubles, like clocking her latest boyfriend with a hubcap.
Still. I guess I like her because she is so flawed. Except for sheer guts, she was the exact opposite of everything you’d expect in an Olympics-level figure-skater. She never got rich on her fleeting fame. Why she was never offered at least a cheesy reality show, I’ll never know. But I like that about her too.
I remember the Winter Olympics of 1994 like it was the Kennedy Assassination. Not just because of Tonya Harding. That was the week I discovered my then-wife was cheating on me. The medal event was a few days later, on my birthday. We had friends over to watch it on TV. It was last entertaining we ever did as a couple.
I can still see Tonya weeping over her broken shoelace and ruined dream. I remember her outfit, something a 6th-grade girl would wear. The crowd booed her off the ice. I thought I knew how she felt: not blameless, maybe, but badly humiliated and badly wounded.
Anyway, I’ll be watching “The Price of Gold.” Not because I care so much about figure-skating. It’s just that somehow, Tonya became part of my personal history. So I’m curious to see how time judges her.