For days NBC Sports had been saying its Nancy & Tonya documentary would probably air on Sunday before the Sochi Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony, which also would sync it up with the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Winter Olympics Figure Skating Competition. But that slot depended on any weather delays or unforeseen problems during NBC’s coverage. This morning, the network nailed down a timeslot: this Sunday at 7 PM ET/6 PM CT.
Mary Carillo will examine the events that held Americans spellbound after defending U.S. figure skating champion Nancy Kerrigan was clubbed in the knee after a practice during the 1994 U.S. championships and rival Tonya Harding’s husband and bodyguard were arrested for planning the attack. The docu, which combines present-day and archival interviews, practice and competition footage, and news coverage leading up to and during the events, includes a sit-down with Kerrigan and a one-on-one with Harding. It culminates in the three-hour telecast of the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics ladies’ figure skating short program competition that was viewed by more than 126 million Americans. That ranked at the time as the fourth-most-viewed show in U.S. history, according to Nielsen data released by CBS, which televised the event. In addition, the competition earned a 48.5 rating — meaning nearly 50% of the country’s television homes were tuned in, a number that has not been matched since by any television program.
Following the attack, Harding sat next to Kerrigan in the U.S. team photo in Detroit three days later. Kerrigan did not compete in the U.S. championships due to the injury but she was named to the Olympic team pending a pre-Olympic skate for the U.S. Figure Skating Association, which wanted to make sure she was fit to compete. The association considered removing Harding from the Olympic team but, after she threatened a lawsuit, the governing body backed off and allowed her to compete in Lillehammer. About 300 photographers attended the first practice at which both women were present. Kerrigan went on to win the silver medal, one-tenth of a point behind 16-year-old Oksana Baiul; Harding finished eighth.
Other interviews in the docu feature Kerrigan’s coaches Mary Scotvold and Evy Scotvold, and Harding’s coach Dody Teachman. Also interviewed are four members of the media who covered the 1994 Winter Games: NBC figure skating analyst and 1984 Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton, who was in the booth for CBS; USA Today columnist Christine Brennan; Chicago Tribune columnist Philip Hersh; and former CBS Evening News co-anchor Connie Chung.
Nancy & Tonya was produced by Margaret Grossi and edited by Rob Weir.