Tonya's competitors included Elizabeth Manley, Canadian, World, and Olympic Silver Medalist; Rory Flack, U.S. Professional Champion; Tonia Kwiatkowski, U.S. Silver Medalist; and Surya Bonaly, French and European Champion and World Silver Medalist. Tonya placed second (in a tie with Flack), behind Bonaly, and after her performance, which showed an unusually artistic side, she was the only skater to receive a standing ovation from the audience.
Following is my first interview with Tonya, which took place in November, 1999, after she had skated in the event and prior to the infamous hubcap episode when her life would again begin to unravel.
How did you feel when you first learned you had been invited to the ESPN competition?
Well, when Michael (Rosenberg—Tonya's manager for much of her amateur career, her ''comeback' into skating in 1999, and for this book) called me in the afternoon—I was getting ready to go and teach, and when he called me, I was just ecstatic. I mean, I was in tears; I was crying. I couldn't believe that after all this time, it was really going to happen for me. And, I don't know, even to this day—it is still a whirlwind—it's just like, I can't believe that I got the opportunity, and I got through it, and I proved to myself that I could actually do it.