Everyone and their mother will be pitting Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan against each other once again when the former starts her “Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” run, a year after the latter competed. But that’s not going to faze the controversial figure skater.
“You know, I know that there are going to be comparisons and that’s perfectly fine,” Harding told E! News.
Kerrigan was booted along with “The Bachelor” star Nick Viall in sixth place in a double elimination on Season 24. The skaters are, of course, inextricably linked thanks to the 1994 attack on Kerrigan orchestrated by Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly. Harding pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution of the attackers and was banned for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Association.
While the incident was a centerpiece of “I, Tonya,” Harding clearly does not want that to be part of her “Dancing” narrative, instead focusing on the show and beating her partner Sasha Farber’s wife, Season 24 champ Emma Slater, who’s competing with two-time World Series winner Johnny Damon. “I just want to go out and we will do the best that we can and hopefully beat his wife,” Harding said. “That’s the important part, I guess.”
Harding already bypassed one comparison by getting paired with Farber instead of Kerrigan’s partner, Artem Chigvintsev. “Our height is, like, perfect,” the 5-foot-7 Farber joked to E!
Farber struck a far more serious tone on Instagram on Saturday, posting a defense of Harding after fans criticized her casting.
“One thought I want to throw out there is that humans have the ability to change, people have the ability to find faith and shouldn’t have to live in the unbelievably devastating shadow of a bad past, wrong decision or bad influences for the rest of their life,” he wrote. “They should be allowed to move on and live a full life like those around them. People live and learn, people forgive and forget and most of all we change, and not only change ourselves, but also the people around us.”
Wowwwwww still on a high from yesterday and super excited to be dancing with this lady right here, on @dancingabc. There are some very strong feelings from lots of people about Tonya and about her competing on the show. I have only spent a couple of days with her but I have learnt so much about her and I’m looking forward to learning more. One thought I want to throw out there is that humans have the ability to change, people have the ability to find faith and shouldn’t have to live in the unbelievably devastating shadow of a bad past, wrong decision or bad influences for the rest of their life. They should be allowed to move on and live a full life like those around them. People live and learn, people forgive and forget and most of all we change, and not only change ourselves, but also the people around us. Thank you all so much for all your positive comments and for all your love and support. I promise we will work harder than ever this season. I really respect Tonya for doing the show and I’m proud to be her partner. We’re ready to dance!!!! P.s I watched an awesome movie last week called #ITonya go check it out 👊🏻
“Dancing with the Stars: Athletes” premieres Monday, April 30 at 8/7c on ABC.
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