Up to the moment of impact, Nancy Kerrigan was truly an innocent victim.  And when juicy reports squealed that her rival's entourage was in­volved, I joined the dutiful majori­ty in praising Nancy's stoic refus­al to lower herself to the jungle level.  I was impressed by how she stayed above the fray, as regal off the ice as on it.  A real class act, our Nancy.

          Well, yes and no.

          Watching her endless "no comments" during the build up to the finals, I came to feel that, contrary to popular image, she displayed neither dignity nor distance.  She could have challenged the media frenzy, but chose not to. 

          Imagine her making something like the following press state­ment in Lillehammer:

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          "Tonya Harding repre­sents no more or less of a threat to me, and has no more claim on my attention than the two dozen other skaters who are competing for the Gold.  Tonya and I have never been friends and I don't expect that to change, re­gardless of the outcome of the legal proceedings in the coming months. 

          The issue, of course, is whether or not she had advance knowledge of the attack.  I do not have any special in­sight into that, nor do I have the luxury to speculate.  I was a victim, not a witness. 

          I don't blame you in the media for thinking and writing about it.  To an outsider, it's naughty fun.  It's your job, and you do it well.

          My job is to skate. 

          I can say this about Tonya, based on what I read in the papers and see on TV:  She has not had a simple or pleasant life.  I feel sorry for her, as I feel sorry for Oksana Baiul, who had an even bumpier road.  Many high level per­formers have buried sorrow.

          I simply cannot know if I am angry at her.  If she is guilty of planning this attack, then I both feel sorry for her and want to see her severely punished.  If she found out about it after the fact, then she is a victim herself.  In either case, she clearly has not had the for­tune, judge­ment or inner strength to surround herself with trustworthy, decent people.  She is not the only women in this situation.

          Again, I have no knowledge, and at this point, no inter­est in whether she was complicit.  That is a legal question which others will decide in due course. 

          My faith and tranquility were attacked; threatened.  But at least I had a store of them to begin with. 

          I hope I win a Gold Metal.  I hope that if Tonya is inno­cent she wins a Silver Metal.  We are here to skate. 

          Watch us skate."

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          Imagine the wet blanket that would have thrown on those of us whose only interest was voyeuris­tic. But Nancy kept a tantaliz­ing distance, refusing to frame the issue in a way that would diminish tabloid inter­est. 

          Nancy's "regal" silence fanned our speculation and reassured us that she was mad as a wet hen. 

          She kept it personal.  She kept it interest­ing. 

          She is, in her way, as down and dirty as Tonya. 

          She really is a class, act.