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Tonya Harding

Attempted Comeback

Harding moved to a town in Washington, just across the river from Portland, after her probation ended in 1997, and attempted to return to skating—this time as a professional, which skirted the USFSA ban—in October of 1999. She competed in the ESPN Professional Skating Championships in Huntington, West Virginia, but fell twice in her program. She finished in second place overall, earning polite applause from the crowd each time. Yet even on the professional circuit, Harding was cold-shouldered by other skaters, and claimed to have been blackballed entirely in the sport.

Harding's troubles with the law had not ended. In February of 2000 she was arrested on assault charges filed by her then-boyfriend, who claimed she hit him with a hubcap. There were two witnesses to the incident, and Harding entered a not-guilty plea, claiming she meant to hit his motorcycle. She served three days in jail and ten days on a work crew.

Where Is She Now?

Harding lives in Vancouver, Washington and has had further legal troubles. She had been forbidden to drink alcohol as one of the terms of her probation in the 2000 hubcap-assault charge, but on April 20, 2002, just weeks before that injunction was set to expire, Harding's 1977 Dodge truck veered into a ditch in Washington. Both she and her 23-year-old male passenger were unharmed, but Harding failed a field sobriety test, and a blood-alcohol level test registered a 0.16 reading, twice the legal limit in Washington state. She faced two charges: violating the terms of probation and driving under the influence (DUI). Harding argued that the power steering had failed on her truck, but at an August 8 probation hearing she admitted that she had a drinking problem, and viewed the incident as a wake-up call. The court gave her a 30-day jail sentence, but twenty days were suspended in return for her completing twelve hours of special classes.

In March of 2002 Harding appeared on another Fox special, Celebrity Boxing, sparring with Paula Jones, the Arkansas woman who accused a then-Governor Bill Clinton of sexual harassment on the job. Again, she reentered the public consciousness as the butt of jokes, a figure who seemed to cling to her notorious celebrity for lack of any other viable career plan. Harding remains the sole skater ever to be implicated in a physical attack on a competitor, and though the incident seems tragiccomic in retrospect, it did serve to unmask a more vicious side of women's figure skating—less a sport, some pundits note, than a telegenically-driven competition for endorsement dollars.

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Famous Sports StarsFigure SkatingTonya Harding Biography - Began On Used Skates, Rose In Sport Despite Hardships, Chronology, The Infamous Footage, Linked To Odd Phone Query - CONTACT INFORMATION