HAMAR, Norway — While security reinforcements arrived here to oversee the first practice session expected to involve both Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding today, peace broke out in figure skating as the two Americans greeted each other cordially Wednesday night.
A few hours after Harding arrived in the athletes' village here, the site of the Winter Olympic figure skating competition, Kerrigan initiated a conversation in a chance meeting with Harding, U.S. Figure Skating Assn. team leader Gale Tanger said.
The meeting was "very brief, but very natural," Tanger said. "It was great for all of us. We feel comfortable now. It was a little hard not knowing exactly (how they would react)."
Kerrigan and Harding later posed together for a USFSA team picture.
But the tension was not alleviated for officials at the Olympic Amphitheatre, where the practice group including Kerrigan and Harding is scheduled for two sessions today.
Already bracing for an invasion by media eager to see whether there will be a confrontation between them, venue manager Bjorn Ruud said Wednesday night that security has been quadrupled in the rink after he received threats against each skater in telephone calls from the United States.
"One call was from someone who wanted very much for Tonya Harding to win, and she knew how to do it," Ruud said.
"The other call came from a man in Santa Barbara, who said: 'I will have to stop Tonya Harding so she can't take part in the competition, and if I do that, God will bless me forever.' "
Repeated efforts by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the USFSA to move Harding and Kerrigan to separate practice groups have been rejected by International Skating Union officials because they fear that granting the request would cause disruption for even more female competitors.
The furor surrounding the two U.S. skaters has affected at least one of their competitors, Lee Lilly Lyoonjung, 24, of Alexandria, Va., who represents South Korea.
Since Kerrigan arrived here last Thursday, she and Lee have been the only two skaters assigned to their daily practice group to attend the sessions. They, however, have not been alone, because hordes of reporters and photographers have been recording Kerrigan's every move.
Lee went to her coach, Kathy Casey of Colorado Springs, Colo., and cried on the third day they were here.
"I was OK in the beginning," she said. "But then 5,000 media showed up, and there were only two of us skating. I said, 'Oh God, this is kind of intimidating.' But Kathy and I sat down and refocused. Now, Tonya's here."
Harding is in the six-woman group with Kerrigan, Lee, two Czechs and a Bulgarian that is scheduled to practice at least once a day before the start of their competition next Wednesday.
Figure skating experts said Harding, 23, and Kerrigan, 24, are so experienced that a collision is unlikely, but it is inevitable that their paths will cross during practice.
"They are going to get in each other's way, that is going to happen," former U.S. Olympic figure skater Caryn Kadavy said by telephone from Sarasota Fla., where she was touring with an ice show.
Kadavy, whose practice sessions with former world champion Jill Trenary while both trained in Colorado Springs were famous within the sport because of the tension they produced, said Harding is one of the most difficult skaters to share ice with because of her athleticism.
"She'll come barreling down the ice and go into one of those big jumps," Kadavy said. "You have to know where she is all the time."
Before the Kerrigan-Harding contact in the village Wednesday night, Lee had said she hoped they would do something to break the tension.
"Then we can practice normally," she said, adding that she intends to greet Harding warmly.
"When I see people I haven't seen for a long time, I hug them and say hello," she said. "Even if there's not a hug for her from Nancy, there will be a hug from Lilly."