Photo originally published in February 1991.
The 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships was a defining moment for 20-year-old Tonya Harding.
It was on the ice at Target Center in Minneapolis where the Olympic hopeful became the first American woman to complete a triple axel during a competition. “I just did it. Nobody else did it,” she said in a 2018 interview. “Nobody helped me land that triple axel right there in that moment.”
Her face during the triple axel shows the determination, and the effort was enough to not only win the championship that day, but to get a near-perfect score on technical merit.
That routine, filled with grit and an eclectic mix of music, gave her the edge over favorites Kristi Yamaguchi and Nancy Kerrigan. The three would go on to represent the United States in the 1992 Winter Olympics, where they would place in the top four spots, Harding just missing a medal.
Although that 1991 routine secured her a spot in the figure skating record books, it also was the beginning of an unsettling period in the skater’s life. “Everything about life after that point became confusing,” she told ABC News. “You don’t know who to trust, who to believe.”
The rest, as they say, is history. And the subject of the 2017 movie “I, Tonya.”