After Tonya was charged with ''hindering the prosecution,' following the attack on Nancy Kerrigan
, she was stripped of her U.S. National titles and banned from amateur competition for life by the United States Figure Skating Association. Furthermore, she was unofficially barred from professional competition and shows. Ironically, these same professional events became much more popular because of the 1994 scandal and would go on to make many people wealthy—especially the figure skaters who either agreed with the ban or refused to skate in the same events as Tonya. Prior to the scandal, those world-class figure skaters who retired from amateur competition usually managed to make much less of a living by coaching or touring with ice shows.
Enjoying a popularity without precedent, the figure skating boom would continue for the next four years, but by the spring of 1999, interest in the sport was on the decline, and many assumed Tonya was invited to the nationally televised ESPN professional competition in October of that same year to give figure skating a much-needed ''shot in the arm.' Indeed, upon attending the high security event in Huntington, West Virginia, I witnessed the intense media coverage where some 48 news agencies had sent reporters to cover the competition. Vying with each other for interviews and photographs of Tonya were the usual tabloid media, including Hard Copy
and Entertainment Tonight
along with the more established press such as The New York Times
, The Washington Post
, USA Today
, and CNN. Even Europe had dispatched people to report on the notorious skater's return to the ice.