TODAY   |  February 18, 2014

Skaters Kerrigan and Harding: 20 years later

Figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding sit down with NBC’s Mary Carillo to look back at the 1994 attack on Kerrigan that generated headlines and controversy for months.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> second ago, seems hard to believe, but it's been 20 years since that attack on nancy kerrigan after a practice session for the 1994 women's u.s. figure skating championship. the master mind behind it, the ex-husband of tonya harding . nbc's olympics correspondent mary carillo sat down with both women for a documentary that will air during the prime time coverage.

>> this was the start of reality television. and then as the details emerged, it became fargo on ice. in this clip, you'll see i began by taking both women back to that january day in 1994 that rocked the figure skating world.

>> just describe for me your day on january 6th , 1994 .

>> which day is that?

>> that's the day it happened with nancy kerrigan .

>> the day? let's see. i had a session in the afternoon training and went back and i was sleeping when my choreographer came to the door and woke me up and told me what had happened.

>> in detroit today, someone attacked --

>> the u.s. women's figure skating champion nancy kerrigan was attacked today.

>> let's go to the podium and hear from miss kerrigan .

>> the general public looked at women's figure skaters as princesses. when that baton came down, it changed forever the image of figure skating.

>> i don't know if anyone could figure out why someone could do something so vicious.

>> that was my chance to defend my title. i could have been a two-time national champion to hurt anyone -- for whatever. i don't know. yeah. i was mad.

>> though she'd miss nationals, it appeared kerrigan would have a chance to recover in time for the olympics . three days after the incident, she sat next to harding for a team photo on the detroit ice.

>> it just felt strange, always looking for somebody to run out and do what they did to nancy to other people, including myself.

>> i had people asking me, do you think she had anything to do with it, you know? and my reaction to that was that's ridiculous. to me, this had to have been some random act.

>> harding would win the u.s. title qualifying her for the olympics . and she returned to a hero's welcome in portland.

>> i'm confident coming in here because it's my hometown and everything. even though we have had problems here in portland. but shawn is my body guard , he set up security.

>> but questions about the kerrigan attack continued to dominate the conversation.

>> i don't know anything. i don't know for sure anything about what's going on at all. and of course i'm going to cooperate. i don't have anything to hide and i want the person to be caught as much as anyone else does.

>> welcome home , nancy , how do you feel?

>> fine, thank you.

>> over the next few weeks, the investigation into the assault continued to dominate the news. but the public's reaction to kerrigan 's emotional response at the scene soon evolved from horrified concern to sarcastic mockery.

>> some people said it was whiney, oh, the ice princess is whining. whining? i wasn't whining i had just been hit with a metal baton by a big, strong person. if you've never been attacked, you have no idea what you would do.

>> nancy kerrigan does not like talking about that day or the time right afterwards. you get a sense after being with her of how it impacted her life?

>> that's why she's never talked about it until now, matt. because she didn't want to be one-half of that story. she was a national champion , a bronze medalist and a silver medalist , and yet she's tied to this thing. i'm glad she finally talked.

>> and her feelings today about tonya harding .

>> uh -- tonya maintains she's apologized. nancy claims there's never been an apology. and to this day tonya has a resistance to admitting anything like that.

>> it's fascinating.

>> it is. it is.

>> thank you very much. just a reminder, you can check out mary's full story on nbc prime time olympic coverage.