Davison was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver three years ago in Portland. "I wouldn't go to his funeral," says Harding. "I know it sounds terrible. My mom tried to make me, but I wouldn't."
Harding talks about these things with a steady voice and dry eyes. She talks about them because she is asked, not because she feels it is time to share her troubles with the world. She has never spoken of these things publicly before. She's a tough cookie, and she's had to be.
LaVona left Al and Tonya later that same year. Tonya came home one day to find her mother gone and all the furniture removed from the house. Six cords of wood she had split and stacked with her dad were also gone. "I stayed with Dad," Tonya says. "Mom didn't want anything to do with me. I remember she told me I was the only reason my parents had stayed together. That didn't make me feel good at all."
For the next six or seven months Harding lived with her father, but when Al got a job offer in an arms-and-tackle store in Boise, he accepted it and moved to Idaho. Tonya moved back in with her mother, who had married for the sixth time, in December 1987, and was now Mrs. James Golden. The mother-daughter relationship continued to be strained. Tonya stayed with the Goldens until she was 18. "Then my mother and her husband basically kicked me out," she says. "If I was to live under their roof, I had to live under their rules. They wanted me to pay rent or move out. I couldn't handle it."
Her mother denies ever asking Tonya to pay rent or leave and feels she was a good mother. "When I wasn't home, I was working. I did try," says LaVona. "She couldn't wait to turn 18 so she could be with Jeff."
Harding moved in with Gillooly, her boyfriend of three years, who is three years her senior and works in distribution at the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
Naturally, Harding's skating was affected by the turbulence in her personal life. Skating was her anchor, but it is difficult to excel in anything when you're unhappy. She had dropped out of high school in the middle of her sophomore year, and her sense of self-esteem was largely dependent on how she performed on the ice. In her first senior nationals, in 1986, Harding finished sixth. She moved up to fifth in 1987 and remained fifth in 1988, an Olympic year.
Her working relationship with her coach, Rawlinson, was growing increasingly strained as Harding began to rebel against all forms of authority. Rawlinson, like most figure skating coaches, was more than just a coach to her skater. She was a fund-raiser, taskmaster, mentor and conscience. The coach was involved in all facets of Harding's life.
At the 1989 nationals in Baltimore, the first held after Debi Thomas and Caryn Kadavy had retired from amateur skating, Harding finished a strong third, so strong that many observers thought she deserved to be placed in the top two. Unfortunately, only two U.S. women were invited to the 1989 world championships in Paris. That left Harding as the team's first alternate. "I thought I could have won at the worlds that year," she says.
She cut back on her training, and Rawlinson decided that after working together for nearly 14 years, they both needed a change. "The bottom line is, it wasn't working," Rawlinson says. "Tonya wasn't training, and wasn't meeting the goals she had set for herself. So I delegated her to Dody."