"She has never given herself time to cry," Brenda says. "She has used so much physical and mental energy, I wonder sometimes if it's coming back to kill her."
And now, of course, there's another item on the problem list, another irony to tick off in the night. Last January the saga of the attack on Kerrigan was played out against the backdrop of Harding's marital problems (her ex-husband was sentenced to two years in prison for helping mastermind the assault). Now Kerrigan's personal relationships are raising eyebrows.
"You always hear people say about these papers, 'Where do they get their stories?' " Nancy says quietly of the Enquirer. "Well, now I know the answer. They make 'em up."
Actually, that's not entirely correct. Kerrigan does not debate the basic point of the Enquirer story—that she has a romantic relationship with Jerry Solomon, her 40-year-old agent. That is truth. She doesn't even debate the headline, NANCY KERRIGAN SHARES LOVE NEST WITH MARRIED MAN. She does debate quotes attributed to "insiders" and "sources" and "the skater's pal," and that cast her as a home wrecker. A married man? Solomon is now divorced, and Kerrigan says he was separated when all this began.
"We were at the Olympics," Kerrigan says. "The whole time, after Detroit, everything had been talk about me. I was so sick of talking about me. I started asking about him. That was where we really started talking, to get to know each other. My parents hadn't arrived yet. I couldn't go anywhere because of all the stuff that was going on. We were there together every day."
She talks about the Olympics, about the crazy time that was. She had bodyguards that she hadn't even been told about. Two strange men followed her everywhere, sat at the next table during meals. She was only told later that there had been three death threats. She talks about the end of the Olympics. She was disappointed, frustrated, spent. People had been congratulating her for winning the gold before Baiul skated. She wonders how she was supposed to feel? Happy?
"I always just wanted to compete," she says. "The first competition I was ever in, I ran out of the arena because I wanted to get to the swing set. I was more interested in the swing set than the awards. That's what people never seemed to understand. I never wanted to be where they put me."
"I don't think anybody can ever be prepared for what Nancy has had to go through." Solomon says, "I don't think anybody has had to do it. There can be second-guessing about things that happened, but it's really better not to look back."
So now Kerrigan is sitting at one end of the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany, N.Y. This is another one-night stand for the Christmas show. Solomon is somewhere else in the building, taking care of the details. Giant inflated pandas and toy soldiers cover the sections of seats at the other end of the rink. The ice is a white, glassy sheet. Aaron Neville, who is the costar of the show, singing while Kerrigan skates, is checking out the sound system. His falsetto voice rolls to the roof.
"This is a good show," the defrocked Cinderella says. "I get to do what I love for a living. I get to skate."