Tonya Harding

updated 12/26/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/26/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

If there were such a thing as an unwanted poster, it might carry Tonya Harding's face. In the first days of 1994, she was the women's U.S. national figure skating champion, with plans for "whipping butts" at the Winter Olympics. Then came the goon bashing of her rival Nancy Kerrigan. Now Harding is an admitted felon. Stripped of her championship and banned from amateur skating, she is developing her untapped potential: a part in a yet-to-be-released film; a stint promoting some pro wrestlers; a 1995 calendar; breast implants.

In the gossamer world of figure skating, Harding's manner was mostly pool hall—scrappy and foulmouthed. But rough manners aren't proof of low principles, so thinking clearly about Harding has always meant keeping in mind the line between tough and bad. Was it her fatal flaw that she lost sight of that line herself? Though Harding still claims she did not know about the attack beforehand, her ex-husband Jeff Gillooly, one of four who went to jail for the crime, says she was in on it from the start. Some evidence seems to support him.

While she mulls over offers of pro skating appearances—presuming she can get her probation officer's permission to travel—Harding still hopes to do a movie or book that will tell her side of the story. "When it all comes out," she predicts, "people will understand why I had to do what I did." She insists that it was because she feared Gillooly, who, she says, abused her. If so, she learned all too well at his hands. However much she tried to hurt Kerrigan, it was nothing compared with what she did to herself.

From Our Partners