The Tonya Harding Website

Tonya Harding Biography

  • Birthdate: November 12, 1970
  • Birthplace: Portland, Oregon
  • Parents: LaVona and Al Harding (divorced)
  • Siblings: half-brother Chris Davison (deceased)
  • Spouse: Michael Smith, Nov. 1995 (divorced)
  • Children: None
  • Education: dropped out of high school during her Sophomore year, later got her GED
  • Career Highlights: 4th- 1992 Olympics; 1st- 1991 Skate America; 2nd- 1991 World Champion.; 1st- 1991 US Nationals
Tonya Harding was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She was a two-time US national figure skating champion. She began skating when she was about four years old and showed tremendous promise at an early age. At 5’1 and 105 pounds, Tonya was a very athletic, aggressive skater and was the first American woman to ever make a triple axle in competition. Childhood was extremely difficult. Her mother was allegedly abusive and her father suffered from physical problems that often prevented him from working. Her family had little money and stability. Growing up, Tonya had eight different addresses in the Portland area. She married Jeff Gillooly in 1990, when she was 19. Tonya filed several complaints with police during their three year marriage. Tonya divorced Gillooly in the summer of 1993, but reconciled shortly thereafter.

Tonya began skating at the age of 3. On a trip to the Lloyd Center, Tonya saw other kids skating and wanted to try it. When she first stepped on the ice she made piles of shavings and ate them. Once Tonya started to skate she was skating circles around other kids. She was a natural at the age of 5. After a few times Tonya loved skating so much she had to be dragged off the ice.

Soon after she began skating, Tonya got the attention of Diane Rawlinson, who had been the former star of Ice Capades. Diane went on to become Tonya's coach, and remained so, for several years. Tonya won her first competition at the age of 5. By the age of 8, Tonya did her first triple jump, quite an amazing feat for an 8 year old. By 12, Tonya began experimenting with what would one day be her trademark: the Triple Axle. By this age she had already won several medals, in numerous competitions.

At 15, Tonya was known for her natural athletic ability and for being the highest jumper and fastest spinner among female skaters. People were in awe of this talented young woman. In 1988 Tonya became the first American woman to win a Russian award as a skater.

The high point in Tonya's career came in 1991 at the Target Center in Minneapolis at Senior Nationals, where Tonya won her first National title. Skating two perfect programs, Tonya received a 6.0 for technical merit, the first perfect score any woman had received in this competition in nearly 2 decades. Tonya also became the first US woman, and the only other woman in the world, to complete the Triple Axle. This record still stands to this day. She then went on to Worlds, where she performed this difficult jump once again. She earned the Silver medal for this competition. Soon after, she performed it once again at Skate America, breaking 2 world records and winning the championship.

In 1991 Tonya began touring with Tom Collins Champions On Ice. Around this time Tonya was known as the first and ONLY woman to land a Triple Axle in both the short and long programs. No other American female skater has achieved this accomplishment. She competed in her first Olympics, placing 4th. Prior to that Olympics, she performed a quad loop jump in a Texaco commercial. In 1994, she took first place at Nationals, and went on to compete at her second Olympics.

A month before the 1994 XVII Olympic Winter Games were celebrated in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway, Tonya Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly hired Shane Stant to club fellow female figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in the knee. In the end Nancy Kerrigan went on to win the silver medal, behind Oksana Baiul of Ukraine. Tonya Harding finished 8th and received probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution and was banned from competitive figure skating for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

Since 1994 Tonya has gone on to do a movie called 'Breakaway', recorded a CD of an original song, which she dedicated to the victims of the Oklahoma bombing tragedy, done numerous interviews, and appearances. She did a skating performance at a hockey game in Reno in 1997, where she received standing ovations from the first sell out crowd ever at one of their games. After the game, there was a crowd of fans two lines deep that waited for her autograph. She graciously signed every one of them. She was signing autographs and greeting fans for over two hours.

In 2000, Tonya made a huge comeback in the skating world. She was invited to compete in her first competition in five years, at the ESPN professional competition in Huntington West Virginia, where she placed 2nd. The crowd welcomed her with open arms and love, and standing ovations. The TV show Entertainment tonight had one of the largest viewing audiences the week they did the interview with Tonya. E! Cable network show did a special on Tonya's life, and it is still one of the most watched personality profiles they have done. They have shown it several times, because of all the response they received. She also did some acting on one of the HBO comedy hits, Arli$$. She has been the guest on the Rosanne show, The Maury Show, and has twice been interviewed on the Larry King Live show, on CNN.

TNN cable network had Tonya host a whole week of programs, called Bad Boy's Week. She introduced shows such as the Waltons, Cagney and Lacey, Dallas, Dukes of Hazards, to name just a few. Also,she had a wonderful time in Charleston, SC a couple years back, where she was the guest of the Charleston River dogs baseball team. It was the first sell out crowd they have had for that day of the week. Tonya was welcomed with cheers, as she threw out the first ball. This past summer, she was the guest of the Jacksonville Sun’s ball club, in Florida. It was a very successful evening for that club also. Recently, she appeared on the TV game show, “The Weakest Link”. She, as well as other celebrity guests did this for charity. Tonya donated her portion to NOVA.

Currently, Tonya is working on a book about her life. It's being written by the very talented Lynda Prouse, from Canada. Lynda has written books for other famous skaters, such as, Jozef Sabovcik, Liz Manley and Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler (which were best sellers). Lynda has also done many magazine articles, so Tonya is thrilled that Lynda is doing the writing.

Tonya is in demand for speaking engagements, as a motivational speaker, especially to young people. People are amazed by the inner strength that she has, and many have expressed this to her, through letters and email. They write that she inspires them to keep going, when times have been rough for them. She has become a source of encouragement to many people. She is in the process of starting her own ISP (, which should be up and running soon. She has also appeared on 'The Best Damn Sports Show Period' with Tom Arnold. This past December, she was invited to skate in a Christmas show in France , by the French Skating Association and French Television. She did a wonderful job, and was thrilled to be skating again. A few months ago, she was the guest on the highly rated T-Man morning show on KUBEFM in Seattle WA. She held her own with this very funny cast of characters, and won over a young listening audience. Most recently, she appeared on the new Fox show “Celebrity Boxing”.

It was one of the highest rated shows of the season with a 15% share. She also made a successful commercial for a very popular car dealership in Portland, showing her acting and comedy skills. A few weeks ago, Tonya was invited to San Francisco by a civic group. Their hope is that she will be able to help raise money for some charity groups there in the near future. She was very honored to have been asked to meet the Mayor, Wille Brown, while in San Francisco. She accepted his invitation, and had a wonderful visit with him, which included a photo session of them together. The Mayor was very gracious to her, and invited her to come to his city by the bay to do the charity work.

Tonya still loves to skate, and can still do the Triple Axle, although she doesn't feel the need to do it anymore. She is a much more rounded skater today, athletic as well as graceful too. She can still thrill an audience with her amazing skating abilities. One of her desires is to teach seminars to young skaters, or skaters of any age for that matter. She hopes to be doing more of this in the near future. But as you have read, her talents extend beyond her wonderful skating abilities.

Tonya Harding has been a champion, world-class skater, who affected the sport more than any other single figure in history. She has appeared in TV promos, commercials, and stared in a feature film called Breakaway, and has made numerous public appearances. Tonya is available for skating and teaching seminars, as well as autograph signing appearance. She has also done appearances that have helped raise thousands of dollars for Charity. She recently visited San Francisco where she was the guest of a civic group, hoping to have her help raise money for local charities in that city. While there, she met with the Mayor, Willie Brown. He was gracious and said he'd be happy to have her do something there for the children.

Tonya has move on and returned to the ice, where she once had been one of the top figure skaters in the world. Now she hopes to inspire others who are working to get over horrible events in their lives.

"People really like me," Tonya said. "People want my autograph, they want to see me, they want pictures with me. They look to me as a normal person who has gone through some horrible thing," Harding said. "Life is a roller coaster and it has ups and downs and no matter what you do, you can't give up."

"I've only been working on my jumps for four days. It was a great feeling flying through the air and feeling it again," she said. "I just want to be me and skating is me. I don't want to compete. I'd like to have my own skating show, though."

On June 23, 2010, Tonya married 42 year old Joseph Jens Price. Pastor Lloyd Ward of the Community Church of God performed the ceremony. They are now expecting a baby boy because Tonya is pregnant.

Nine Months Later ...

On Saturday, February 27, 2011, Tonya became the proud mother of a baby boy. As a first-time mother, she looks forward to spending private, quality time with her new husband and new baby.

If interested in booking Tonya Harding for an appearance, please contact her agent Linda Lewis:
360) 256-7044 EXIT: 203
PO Box 6132 Vancouver WA 98668