Tonya Harding Says 'DWTS' Makes Her Feel 'Alive Again'

Tonya Harding is finding her own sense of redemption in Dancing With the Stars.

After wowing the judges alongside partner Sasha Farber with a Foxtrot to "When You Believe" by Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston last week, the former Olympic figure skater wanted to take things up a notch in her competition, earning rave reviews again after her Quickstep to "Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson.

"Last week I wanted to prove to myself I could do this," Harding told the cameras. "After 24 years, I wanted to prove to myself I could do this. It was truly an amazing life."

She said the competition means more to her than she could have ever imagined.

"Being able to be part of something that is so special makes me feel alive again," she said. "And now I get one more chance to prove to America, hey, I can dance now."

It's been an emotional ride for Harding, who broke down in tears during last week's premiere.

"I was the best figure skater in the world and then I had it taken away from me," she said, beginning to cry. "And it wasn't just my career. It was my life."

She was, of course, referencing the infamous 1994 attack on Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan (who competed on season 24 of Dancing With the Stars), where she was clubbed on the knee by an attacker during practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

It was soon determined that the attack was arranged by Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, along with Shawn Eckardt and his friend Derrick Smith, who drove the getaway car. Gillooly and Eckhart pleaded guilty to racketeering for their involvement in the attack.

Harding, 47, denied having any involvement or knowledge of the attack, but pleaded guilty to conspiring to hinder prosecution. She was required to pay a $160,000 fine and was sentenced to three years’ probation and 500 hours community service. She was banned for life from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.

She never imagined she would return to the stage, but couldn't wait to perform once again, Harding said on the premiere.

"I got banned in '94 from skating, but nobody can tell me I can't dance," she said. "I want people to see that I deserve to be here. I don't want to fail again."

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Dancing With the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Photo credit: ABC