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20 years ago: Recalling how lone camera crew captured Nancy Kerrigan’s cries of ‘Why, why?’

NBC is doing a documentary on the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding affair. It is scheduled to air on Sunday, although it could be sooner depending on what happens with the weather at the Olympics. In an interview with Mary Carillo, Kerrigan talks for the first time about the infamous whack to the knee.

You will notice footage of the infamous incident contains the Intersport logo. Here’s why. Intersport’s Gene Samuels was the only cameraman to record the historical scene below. Intersport president Charlie Besser continues to cash in on the copyrighted footage, especially this year with the 20th anniversary retrospectives. He contends the dramatic video helped lift the story to a level never seen before or since.

Besser: We were doing a live one-hour TV special previewing the OIympics. We approached Campbell’s. Their spokesperson was Nancy Kerrigan. They were interested in being a sponsor if we would do a piece on Nancy. We would tell the story of her rise. We were at Skate America in Detroit. During a practice session, (Samuels) is shooting B-roll of Nancy. Nobody else was there.

She comes off the ice and puts her skate guards on, and Gene turns off the camera. Then Gene hears the scream. He turns on the camera. The first thing he sees is her down on the ground, going ‘Why, why?’ He points the camera up and catches the two assailants running down the hall.

The police asked for the video. We had enough experience to know when you turn over video to the police, it doesn’t always stay there. The first thing we did was encode the Intersport logo into the footage. We wanted to protect it.

Would the story have been as big without the video?

Besser: I don’t think so. Everyone was able to see physical evidence of the actual attack as opposed to conjuring up something in your mind. People saw Nancy’s father carrying her away from there. There were very dramatic images. There was sound and motion to what happened. It became much more real.

 

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