In the early 1990s, a 22-year-old drifter short on money and good decisions settled briefy in Coeur d’Alene and went on a low-level crime spree. He got caught, spent some time in jail and soon was on the move again.
By 1994 Shane Stant was infamous.
For $6,500 he committed one of the most notorious sports crimes in modern history, attacking figure skater Nancy Kerrigan as she pursued her dreams of skating for the 1994 U.S. Olympic team in pursuit of a gold medal.
Today, Stant has been thrust back into America’s consciousness.
With the recent box office release of “I, Tonya,” the one-time Coeur d’Alene resident is now being portrayed on the silver screen.
A dark comedy biopic with a series of mockumentary-style interviews, “I, Tonya” follows the troubled life of skater Tonya Harding – a colorful role played by rising actress Margot Robbie – leading up to the attack on rival Kerrigan at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
“Why?!” Kerrigan famously screamed as she writhed in pain on camera in the immediate aftermath of Stant’s baton strikes to her leg behind the curtains of a skating event.
Stant had been hired by a close friend of Harding’s then-husband, Jeff Gillooly. All three men served prison time for the attack.
After Stant’s 18-month prison sentence, which initially was meant to “take out” Kerrigan to ensure Harding a spot on the Olympic team, Kerrigan ended up skating again just days later.
Stant didn’t speak to the media for more than 20 years.
This past week, however, the now 46-year-old Los Angeles-area resident who runs a legal marijuana business opened up about the attack to the television show “Inside Edition.”
“There was initial talk of like, cutting her Achilles tendon,” Stant told “Inside Edition.” “I didn’t think it was necessary. I wasn’t willing to do that on top of that.”
Stant did not return requests for interviews from The Spokesman-Review.
Lake City troubles
Stant, a high school dropout who bounced around the western United States as a young adult, didn’t live in Coeur d’Alene for long.
Known as a rough-and-tumble weightlifter, Stant’s scrapes with local police included walking into a Safeway store on Fourth Street in summer 1991 and applying a $5.99 bottle of tanning oil in the store without paying for it. Prosecutors dropped the charge when they couldn’t find the only witness, according to Kootenai County court records.
A month later, Stant and his friends were accused of stealing four Toyota 4Runners from the lot of Parker Toyota and meeting up at nearby Canfield Mountain.
Stant, who worked briefly as a busboy in a Lake City restaurant, pleaded guilty to “driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent” and spent 15 days in jail.
His landlord had troubles with him, too.
According to a civil suit filed in October 1991, Stant owed money for back rent, a broken screen door and legal fees for an apartment at 825 N. Second St. near downtown Coeur d’Alene.
The court ordered Stant to pay $796.
Starring as Stant
With his tan skin, thick dark hair and muscled physique, Ricky Russert, 35, shares many of Stant’s physical attributes.
But to really nail Stant’s early 1990s look, Russert had to bulk up. He is from Kennewick and graduated from Washington State University. He added about 20 pounds of muscle once he won the acting role to play Stant in the new movie, which has grossed about $12 million.
Russert, who has earned small roles in such popular TV shows as “The Walking Dead” and the new “MacGyver” series, viewed Stant as a man trying to get out of a bind.
“The goal was to portray him as someone nervous and involved with a situation that, at the time, he may have felt was necessary,” Russert said this week, “… a quick and easy way out of his own mess, whatever that may have been at the time.”
Russert said he has never spoken to Stant. He said he recently was messaged by someone saying he was Stant but never connected.
According to a recent Daily Mail article, Stant is described as having enjoyed watching “I, Tonya.” Stant’s sister also told the newspaper that Stant only wished that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would have portrayed him because Russert “wasn’t that good-looking.”
Russert responded on Twitter this week: “Of course I am not as hunky as the The Rock, but thanks, glad you enjoyed the film!” Russert tweeted.
Regardless of Stant’s vanity, Russert said he has relished the production and release of the film.
“The experience has been incredible,” Russert said. “Very proud to be a part of something so special and filled with phenomenal talent and genuine people.”
About 10 years after Stant’s release from 14 months in prison, he asked an Oregon judge to clear his felony record so he could join the Navy Seals.
The judge declined his request.
Stant has told other media outlets that the time in prison saved his life. He said he became a Christian. And now he runs a legal marijuana business dubbbed Greenlit 13, which is open from 3:13 p.m. to 3:13 a.m., according to Stant’s voicemail greeting.
Stant “is in a great place now,” his sister told the Daily Mail and “is nothing like that person” who clubbed Kerrigan in Detroit near an ice rink while posing as a cameraman.
Still in great physical shape but now sporting a sizable neck tattoo, Stant is also the subject of a documentary called “My Hero’s Shadow.” It’s about Stant’s younger sister living in a world where her hero, Stant, is viewed as a villain.
To this day, Stant told “Inside Edition,” he has never spoken to Harding, who still denies her involvement in the attack.
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