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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Return to Competition A Bit Shaky for Harding




HUNTINGTON, West Virginia -- Competing for the first time since the 1994 Lillehammer Games, Tonya Harding has had a rough debut thus far in pro competition.


With empty seats outnumbering spectators, Harding fell twice Monday during the technical portion of the Pro Figure Skating Championships and was fourth among the five competitors.


Harding was implicated in the 1994 knee-whack on rival Nancy Kerrigan and subsequently banned from amateur skating.


"I was very nervous and my legs were shaking," Harding said. "But at the same time, the audience was wonderful. I went out and did the best that I could after being off the ice for so long."


One sign flashed "Good luck, Tonya," and the audience warmly greeted Harding, the final skater of the three-hour competition.


"When she came out, she had tears in her eyes," said her adviser, Michael Rosenberg. "Then some little girl yelled, 'We love you, Tonya.' She perked right up. I think she handled herself well."


Wearing a turquoise-and-purple outfit, Harding performed to a saxophone-guitar medley, falling on her first and final jumps.


Surya Bonaly was first, followed by Rory Burghart, Tonia Kwiatkowski, Harding and Liz Manley going into Tuesday night's artistic program.


Afterward, Harding was seated in the middle of eight skaters at a news conference. She received several hugs, and skaters took turns to welcome back Harding to competition.


"She was a friend of mine back then, and I'm so glad she's back skating with us," Bonaly said.


Yet some fans failed to forget the incident that rocked the figure skating world earlier this decade.


"It's the scandal revisited," said Carol Delancey of Huntington. "I don't think skating needs all that. Her reputation detracts from the overall picture."