The same three ladies on the national championships podium – Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu, and Karen Chen – were selected to compete at the PyeongChang Olympics next month in South Korea, it was announced on TODAY on Saturday morning.
Tennell, 19 and a relative newcomer to the scene, put herself into Olympic conversations when she won a bronze medal at the Skate America Grand Prix over Thanksgiving weekend. She won the 2018 national championship on Friday night with a score of 219.51 points.
Nagasu, 24, will be making her second trip to the Olympics. She has a national title on her resume, from way back in 2008, and competed at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where she finished fourth. She finished second during Friday’s nationals with a total of 213.84 points.
Karen Chen, 18, won the national title in 2017 and placed fourth at the world championships. She bottomed out at a competition in between (Four Continents) and struggled this fall on the Grand Prix circuit. However, she managed a podium finish at nationals this year and picked up the bronze with 198.59 points.
Four years ago, Ashley Wagner finished fourth at nationals and was named to the Sochi Olympic team over Nagasu, the third place finisher. Wagner was fourth again at nationals, and this time, was not selected to compete at the Games. Instead, she is the first alternate. Mariah Bell and Angela Wang are the second and third alternates, respectively.
Wagner’s late-season assignment is the Four Continents Championships. She’s also the first alternate to the 2018 World Championships team, should Tennell, Nagasu, or Chen withdraw.
The U.S. could choose three ladies to send to the Olympics, and didn’t necessarily have to choose the podium top three, as evidenced by Wagner’s selection in 2014.
Wagner’s two Olympic teammates, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds, were not up for PyeongChang consideration. Gold withdrew from the competition months ago, despite attending as a fan, and Edmunds withdrew from the free skate due to foot pain after finishing seventh in the short.
The championships were not an official Olympic Trials event, but counted towards what U.S. Figure Skating calls a “body of work.” The Olympic selection committee accounted for the results of nationals, the fall 2017 Grand Prix Final and the series overall, plus additional competitions from the prior season. Based on all of this, the 2018 Olympic Figure Skating Team was chosen to compete in PyeongChang, South Korea in February.
Competition continues Saturday afternoon with the pairs free skate live on NBC from 4-6 p.m. and the men’s free skate live on NBCSN from 8-11 p.m.