Tonya Harding has her work cut out for her on Dancing With the Stars. Not only is the 47-year-old former Olympic figure skater the second oldest contestant set to compete on the all-athlete edition of the ABC celebrity ballroom competition, but she faces comparisons to all of the past skaters who’ve competed on the show—including her former Olympic rival.
More than two decades after the 1994 Olympic attack against Nancy Kerrigan, that ultimately ended her professional skating career, Harding comes to the Dancing With the Stars ballroom bearing a checkered past, but she hopes to gain new respect as she competes for the show’s 26th mirrorball trophy with partner Sasha Farber. In an interview with In Touch Weekly, Harding, who was once known for being the first woman to successfully land a triple axel, revealed that when it comes to ballroom dancing, she is starting from scratch.
“I know some basics, but not really [anything]!” Harding told In Touch. “Sasha gets to teach me everything. Skating didn’t help me in any way.”
Harding added that she plans to do her best and not worry about her competition, which includes 2018 Olympic ice skaters Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon.
“[I’m] just going up against myself and wanting to be the best that I can be, seeing how far I can push it,” Tonya Harding told In Touch.
Of course, there’s no way around it—Tonya Harding will be compared to past ice skaters who’ve competed on Dancing With the Stars, most notably to her longtime rival Nancy Kerrigan, who competed on the show last year. Almost all of the past ice skaters who’ve competed on the ABC celebrity ballroom competition have fared extremely well. In fact, the “worst” ice skater showing came in Season 16, when skating legend Dorothy Hamill withdrew from the competition on doctor’s orders after just two dances. Otherwise, most Dancing with the Stars skaters have delivered impressive performances.
Way back in 2007, Olympic short-track speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno and his partner Julianne Hough won an early mirrorball trophy after beating out singer Joey Fatone and pro dancer Kym Johnson after their electric hip-hop freestyle in the finale. Apolo didn’t fare as well in the all-stars season, but he was recently named Dancing with the Stars fans’ favorite male athlete winner by Gold Derby.
In 2008, Olympic figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi won the Dancing with the Stars mirrorball trophy with partner Mark Ballas. Kristi’s final three dances were all perfect scorers and she remains one of the most popular Dancing With the Stars winners of all time.
And six years after Yamaguchi’s win, Dancing With the Stars couple Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy dominated the competition with high scores and a perfect 10 in the Season 18 semifinals. Davis went on to win the competition and she still holds the record for the highest celebrity average of all time, according to TV Guide. Meanwhile, Davis’s skating partner, Charlie Davis, didn’t fare as well, but he did make it all the way to the semi-finals with partner Sharna Burgess.
Other notable, DWTS ice skaters include Season 10’s Evan Lysacek who danced his way to the finals with Anna Trebunskaya. The couple lost out to Nicole Scherzinger and Derek Hough.
And of course, the most recent Dancing with the Stars ice skater was Nancy Kerrigan. In Season 24, Kerrigan and her partner, Artem Chigvintsev, landed in seventh place after a double elimination, falling just shy of making it to the final five. Harding knows she will be compared to Kerrigan more than any of the other past Dancing With the Stars ice skaters.
“You know, I know that there are going to be comparisons and that’s perfectly fine,” Harding told E! News.
Let the games begin.
You can see Tonya Harding talking about Dancing With the Stars below.
Dancing With the Stars: Athletes premieres Monday, April 30 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.