Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan: A look back at the infamous 1994 attack

On Jan. 6, 1994, one of the most infamous scandals in sports history shocked America and the world. 

While preparing to compete in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was attacked and struck in the knee with a baton, rendering her unable to participate in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 

A week after the attack, bewildering information began to emerge about who was behind the plot to sabotage Kerrigan and fingers began pointing at none other than her figure-skating rival, Tonya Harding. 

tonya harding nancy kerrigan on ice

File: Figure skaters Tonya Harding (L) and Nancy Kerrigan avoid each other during a training session February 17, 1994 in Hamar, Norway, during the Winter Olympics. (VINCENT AMALVY/AFP via Getty Images)

But Harding wasn’t the one who attacked Kerrigan. 

Let’s take a look back at the investigation into Kerrigan’s terrifying ordeal and the crime that would haunt Harding for decades. 

Who attacked Nancy Kerrigan on Jan. 6, 1994?

nancy kerrigan

File: News coverage of the attack (inset) on Nancy Kerrigan, seen here leaving the hospital January 13, 1994. (Photos by New York Daily News and Brooks Kraft LLC/Sygma via Getty Images)

Investigators eventually found that Kerrigan had been attacked by a man named Shane Stant. 

Scott Lewis, who was an investigative reporter for FOX 2 Detroit during the infamous attack, recalled what it was like when he first learned that Harding was being investigated by the FBI. 

"Initially, I just broke a piece of the story," Lewis told FOX TV Stations. "The details didn’t come out until Tonya Harding was back in Portland and the FBI started rattling cages and one of the guys spilled his guts and they got the whole story." 

RELATED: Reporter recalls covering Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan attack: ‘I don’t think I’ll ever forget it'

"We got a tip from a very reliable source that the FBI was focusing on Tonya Harding and her entourage," Lewis continued. "And they believed it was a deliberate attempt to knock Nancy Kerrigan out of the competition."

How was Shane Stant connected to Tonya Harding? 

shane stant in court

Shane Stant in court (FOX 2 / file)

Stant may have carried out the attack on Kerrigan, but Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, her bodyguard, Brian Sean Griffith, and Derrick Smith, an associate of Shawn Eckhardt (another one of Harding’s bodyguards), together planned the attack.

Harding vehemently denied having any knowledge of the plan before it was carried out. While many of her supporters believed her, there was a huge chunk of people who were following the story that did not. 

"I can’t say that I believed her," Lewis said. "But I don’t have anything to say that she knew about it in advance. The one thing I’ll say is, to have four guys cook up a scheme and do all of the planning at the hotel rooms without her at least acquiescence to say, ‘OK,’ that’s kind of hard to believe that they would do that without her knowledge."            

Tonya Harding pleads guilty

Shawn Eric Eckardt (L), bodyguard of figure skater Tonya Harding

File: Shawn Eric Eckardt (L), bodyguard of figure skater Tonya Harding, and fellow defendant Derrick Smith (R) are joined by Smith's attorney Robert Goffredi 14 January 1994 as they face Judge Donald Londer during their arraignment on charges of cons

Initially, Gillooly and Griffith pleaded guilty to racketeering in connection to the attack and Harding staunchly denied having any involvement.

However, later in 1994, Harding would plead guilty to conspiracy to hinder the prosecution. This basically means she was aware of who committed the crime but didn’t notify authorities once it happened, The New York Times reported.

MORE: Tonya Harding: Where is she now?

Harding was sentenced to three years of probation and 500 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay a fine of $160,000 and she was banned from the U.S. Figure Skating Association. 

Nancy Kerrigan wins silver

silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan of the U.S.A, gold medalist Oksana Baiul of Ukraine and bronze medalist Chen Lu of China

File: From left, silver medalist Nancy Kerrigan of the U.S.A, gold medalist Oksana Baiul of Ukraine and bronze medalist Chen Lu of China hold up bouquets during the medal presentation ceremony in the women's figure skating competition at the 1994 Win

Despite her injury, Kerrigan was able to qualify and compete, ultimately winning a silver medal in the Olympic Games. 

Harding did not qualify for any medals. 

Life after scandal 

tonya harding

File: Former Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding (M) speaks to reporters about her sentencing as she exits the Camus/Washougal Municipal Court on August 8, 2002 in Camus, Washington. Harding was sentenced to 30 days detention, with 20 days suspended,

During a 2018 interview with the Times, Harding told the publication that she knew the assault of Kerrigan would follow her forever. 

After being banned from skating professionally, Harding started a boxing career and would actually go on to have a record of three wins and three losses in 2003-2004, according to the Olympics website.

Years later, the Kerrigan and Harding incident was revisited in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "The Price of Gold" in 2014, and three years later with the 2017 film "I Tonya," which addressed the incident but centered on Harding’s upbringing and rise in the figure skating ranks. 

Daniel Miller and FOX News contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.