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  Kerrigan Can't Wait to 'See What Happens'

By Christine Brennan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 13, 1994; Page D1




LILLEHAMMER, Norway, Feb. 12 — It turns out that Nancy Kerrigan is just like all the rest of us. She too is fascinated by the saga of Tonya Harding.

"It's kind of like reading a book and you just can't wait to get to the end and see what happens," Kerrigan said this afternoon at a jammed news conference, hours before the announcement that the U.S. Olympic Committee would allow Harding to compete in the Winter Olympics. "I love mysteries and that's kind of what this is all like."

Kerrigan, who appeared happy and relaxed in front of hundreds of photographers and reporters, said she hasn't avoided the news and interviews from Portland when they've appeared on television.

"Since I haven't been going out very much, I do sit home and watch TV and it's on all the time so I've been watching it," Kerrigan said. "I just kind of let it pass and hang out with my brothers. But I'm fine emotionally. I'm ready to be here."

If and when Kerrigan runs into Harding in the athletes' village or at practice, she said she isn't certain what she will say or do.

Harding, who admitted to knowing about the Jan. 6 attack on Kerrigan after it happened, said the other day she would like to give Kerrigan a hug when they meet. Harding is scheduled to arrive Wednesday. When Kerrigan was asked about that Friday, she replied, "Bye," and walked away from reporters.

Today, Kerrigan had a bit more to say.

"I don't know how I'm going to feel when I see her and I don't know what will happen," she said haltingly. "I don't know ... that's personal, I think, and between the two of us, not you guys."

Does that mean Kerrigan hasn't yet decided what their relationship will be?

"I'm not comfortable talking about that," she said.

Kerrigan and Harding have been teammates before — on the 1992 Olympic team and 1991 and 1992 world championship teams, and never associated much. Harding usually spent her time away from her teammates and with then-husband Jeff Gillooly, who pleaded guilty to planning the attack on Kerrigan.

Asked about Harding's problems with the U.S. Olympic Committee and the distractions they might be causing, she said: "My preparations are on the ice. Anything else is out of my hands and it's someone else's decision."

Otherwise, the 1992 Olympic bronze medalist seemed at ease in front of what easily was the best-attended news conference in Winter Olympic history. Photographers and camera crews by the dozens camped in front of the main entrance to the Main Press Center auditorium, awaiting her arrival. Others waited by an emergency entrance — which is the one by which Kerrigan came and went, surrounded by six security guards.

"There have definitely been changes in my life," Kerrigan said. "When I was at home, I couldn't go out because there were people following me a lot, which was strange. It's a little overwhelming. Everybody likes privacy."

Kerrigan, 24, said she has recovered well from her severely bruised right knee, but still has a small bump, formed from scar tissue, that is being treated by special exercises.

"I don't think people have a reason to feel sorry for me," she said. "I'm fine. I'm very capable of performing to what I've worked all year for, all 18 years for. There's no reason right now to feel sorry for me. I have a great family and I'm doing just fine."

Kerrigan, who had several endorsements prior to the attack, has more lucrative deals awaiting her now. Others have said the attack might have been the best thing to have happened to her. But she doesn't look at it that way.

"I'm not even thinking about any of that," she said. "My job is skating and what I love to do is skate. The reason I started is because I like it, it's fun, I love to skate. Take any of [the endorsements] away and I would still do it. I didn't know there was any money to be made in the sport except for teaching until two or three years ago, when I got a couple of endorsement contracts. I had no idea. I do it because I love it."

And, along the same lines, she said she would prefer that all the media just go away and find other athletes here to interview.

"The reason all this attention would bother me is there are a lot of great athletes here at the Olympics and a lot of great stories and I don't want to take anything away from these other athletes," she said. "I hope that the other athletes get the recognition they deserve. They worked hard to get here."

© Copyright 1994 The Washington Post Company

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