1994: Hoosiers react to assault of figure skater Nancy Kerrigan

Posted at 5:51 AM, Jan 04, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-04 05:51:00-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan rocked the nation 30 years ago.

Kerrigan was attacked after completing a practice session for the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. The assault came less than a year after tennis player Monica Seles was stabbed during a match in Germany.

Reaction from central Indiana was swift. WRTV reporter Derrik Thomas traveled to the ice rink at Pan Am Plaza to hear what Hoosiers had to say about the attack.

"I was very disturbed and I was very surprised,” figure skater Leanna Naczynski said. “I have seen no reason for anyone to do an act like that especially on Nancy Kerrigan or any competitor especially in the skating world."

Naczynski competed against Kerrigan in 1990 and 1991.

Thomas noted the chilling effect likely felt by figure skaters across the country.

"It's probably the last thing on their minds,” Heidi Mallin said. “I was a national competitor myself, and it never crossed my mind that my health or safety would be in that type of danger."

The president of the Indiana Sports Corporation said the safety of athletes was a top priority.

"I don't think there are ever any guarantees or any fail safe maneuvers,” Dale Neuburger said. “We make sure that we try to do everything possible using the best security advice we have from the various authorities to help us make the decisions."

An investigation would find the attack was orchestrated by figure skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. Harding plead guilty to hindering the investigation into the attack.

Nancy Kerrigan won a silver medal in the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer.