Breakout star Bradie Tennell leads ladies short program at U.S. nationals

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Bradie Tennell skated a clean short program to score 73.79 points in the ladies short program at the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday night, the highest short program score ever seen at the event.

Was that what she expected?

No, she said on the NBCSN broadcast from San Jose, California. “My expectations were to skate a clean program,” Tennell said. She stayed focused by ignoring the fact that it’s an Olympic year. She reportedly told media she’s been binge watching “How to Get Away With Murder” since Thanksgiving, where she won a bronze medal at the Skate America Grand Prix. That put the 19-year-old firmly into the Olympic conversation.

Mirai Nagasu sits in second place behind Tennell by 0.7 points. Nagasu’s 73.09 points were also higher than the record-setting mark reached at last year’s nationals.

Nagasu opened her program with a two-footed triple Axel, but was clean the rest of the program, which included a triple flip, triple toe combination and a triple loop. Nagasu won her first and only national title in 2008 and finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics. She’s looking to be on her second Olympic team after not being selected to represent the U.S. in Sochi in 2014.

Reigning national champion Karen Chen skated last of the night. The Bay Area native was called on an under-rotation on her triple toe in her triple Lutz, triple toe combination. However, her triple loop and her double Axel were deemed successful. She totaled 69.48 points and sits in third place leading into the free skate.

Three-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner was flawed in her short program, ending up fifth with 65.94 points. She sits behind Angela Wang by 1.06 points. Wagner won her first title in 2012, the last time that nationals were held in San Jose.

Wagner told media in the mixed zone that she and coach Rafael Arutunian may consider working on a new short program.

“I’ve had a really mental season, I’m not going to lie about that,” Wagner said on the broadcast. “This was solid. It was exactly what I needed it to be. You can lose an event in the short program and for me, my main focus was to just get through this, not get too far behind. Give myself a close enough distance to really make a killing in the long.”

Last year’s national bronze medalist, Mariah Bell, scored 65.18 points and is in sixth place heading into the free skate.

2014 Olympian Polina Edmunds, out for most of the past two seasons with an injury, skated first of the night in front of a hometown crowd. The San Jose native posted 63.78 points and finished the short program in seventh place. Full results are here.

Competition continues Thursday with the pairs and men’s short programs. The ladies free skate is Friday night from 8 to 11 p.m. ET. You can watch it all on NBCOlympics.com:

 
 
 

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