In the winter of 1994, figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were preparing for the U.S Winter Olympic trials when Kerrigan was randomly attacked by a man holding a police baton outside the rink. The assault left Kerrigan with a leg injury, and Harding went on to win the championships, all while the details of the case unfolded. There was a ton of public speculation: Did Harding hire the attacker? Would she still be allowed to compete on the Olympic team?
The story launched a media rivalry between two completely different kinds of skaters. On the one hand, Nancy Kerrigan was the tall, elegant, Massachusetts girl most people would associate with the sport. On the other hand was Harding, a short, scrappy, bottle blonde from Oregon who just happened to be an incredible athlete.
More than 20 years have passed now, and a judge long ago ruled that Harding definitely knew about the attack before it happened. She was found guilty of hindering an investigation and sentenced to three years of probation and a $100,000 fine. The scales of time have been just, too: Kerrigan was able to make a quick recovery and take home the silver medal that year. Harding ended up placing eighth in the ’94 Olympics, had her national title stripped, and was banned from the skating world (ESPN has an awesome 30 for 30 about the whole saga).
Now fast forward to November 2017. It’s Oscar season, and Hollywood is giving us I, Tonya—a movie starring Margot Robbie as Harding as she gears up for those ’94 Olympic trials.
From its first official trailer, the movie seems like a sports world answer to Wolf of Wall Street:
In a time where we’re seeing a very different type of person standing at a podium talking about “the haters,” it’s a sweet relief for the stakes in this film to seem so… human.
I, Tonya hits theaters Dec. 8.