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  Kerrigan Says Harding as Teammate Not a Problem

By Christine Brennan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 18, 1994; Page E2

STONEHAM, Mass., Jan. 17 — Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, who this morning held an energetic skating session in front of reporters for the first time since the Jan. 6 attack on her right knee, said she didn't think there would be any problems if Tonya Harding came to Hamar, Norway, as one of her U.S. Olympic teammates.

"When I'm on the ice, I'm all by myself, just doing what I do every day at home," Kerrigan said at a news conference. "I don't think it would be a problem [if Harding were there]. I don't always hang out with the same people she does."

Harding's bodyguard, Shawn Eric Eckardt, and two other men have been arrested in the attack, which occurred at the U.S. Olympic trials in Detroit. While Kerrigan said she has been following developments through the news and even said she watched the "60 Minutes" report on Harding Sunday night, she declined to discuss specifics of the case.

"I'm just not going to talk about any of that right now," she said.

Kerrigan also said she didn't know if she had received the letter Harding's coach, Diane Rawlinson, said her skater had sent to Kerrigan.

"I have so much mail at home, I don't know," Kerrigan said.

Jerry Solomon, Kerrigan's agent, said four boxes of unopened mail sit in the Kerrigan home.

Kerrigan's right knee wobbled a bit and she fell once during some fancy footwork, but she otherwise skated very well and looked surprisingly self-assured during a half-hour practice before a dozen reporters at Stoneham Arena, her childhood rink. It was her second practice session; the first was a 2 a.m. workout Sunday.

"I'm a very determined person," she said at the news conference later in the day. "If the Olympics were tonight, I think I could go out and do my performance, although I might have to sit down at the end and say, 'Go get the stretcher.' "

Kerrigan, who said she still has tightness in her right hamstring muscle, ran through a bare-bones version of her four-minute Olympic free skate program after warming up with a series of maneuvers including cross-overs, spins and spirals, in which her straightened right leg stretches out behind her. In her long program, skated to a medley of Neil Diamond music, she left out all six triple jumps she plans for the Olympic Games — on doctor's orders.

"It was kind of boring," she said. "I want to jump."

Kerrigan, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist, actually sneaked one small jump into her practice.

She wanted to try a waltz jump, an easy, hop-like move begun from a forward position and landed backward.

"Can I do this?" she asked Mahlon Bradley, the U.S. Figure Skating Association orthopedic surgeon who stood beside the rink.

"No," he replied. "You shouldn't do it yet."

She did it anyway, without incident.

Kerrigan's longtime coach, Evy Scotvold, said Kerrigan probably will begin jumping in earnest by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. He said he expects Kerrigan to begin to skate her entire long program, including the triple jumps, in about two weeks.

For now, though, he was pleased.

"She even staged a fall for you people," he said with a smile.

Wearing black tights and a green T-shirt reading "No Limits. No Mercy," Kerrigan tumbled as she practiced a portion of her program that requires intricate footwork.

"The ice isn't so smooth there," she said. "It's made for hockey. I just hit the edge wrong and I tripped."

After lying on the ice for a few seconds, she got up, went back to talk to Scotvold and Bradley, and continued skating without any problems.

Scotvold said he doesn't think there's any doubt Kerrigan will skate at the Winter Games. But he added she might not be back in the shape she was in heading into the trials until "days before the Olympics."

At the Games, Scotvold said he doesn't believe Kerrigan and Harding should be near each other.

"I don't think they should put them on the same" practice schedule, Scotvold said. "The team leaders have already talked to me about that. I don't think they'll have them in close proximity in housing. Obviously, they'll keep them apart. Whether it's one floor apart or 4,000 miles, I don't know. We'll see."

Scotvold also said Kerrigan might not go to the Olympics with the other figure skaters prior to the Feb. 12 Opening Ceremonies, but instead might stay here longer to get her short and long programs in shape before heading to Norway for the women's competition Feb. 23 and 25.

Said Scotvold: "We'll do what's best for Nancy, regardless of what Tonya does."

Meanwhile, Solomon said he has received 35 made-for-TV movie offers for Kerrigan.

Kerrigan, 24, was asked if she was ready to have a movie made about her life.

"My life hasn't ended yet," she said. "It's still going."

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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