Bradie Tennell was the surprise bronze medal-winner at the 2017 Skate America competition in November, vaulting herself into the Olympic conversation. The 19-year-old was the 2015 U.S. junior national champion, and became the 2018 U.S. national champion in January, when she was named to the Olympic team.
Music this season:
Short program: Selections from Taegukgi (soundtrack) by Lee Dong-Jun
Free skate: Selections from Cinderella (soundtrack) by Patrick Doyle
Tennell’s short program music is from a popular Korean film. A friend recommended it to her, and she “fell in love with how powerful it is.” Her coach called the selection of the music “a conscious choice,” being that the 2018 Olympics are in South Korea.
Figure skating beginnings
Tennell was born January 31, 1998 in the Chicago area and began skating at age 2. She’s not sure how she got into the sport, but recalled begging her mother to take her to lessons. She attended classes at the local rink and never stopped. She’s been with her same coach, Denise Myers, for 10 years.
Tennell won the 2015 junior national title after finishing fourth the year prior.
A few months later, she learned she had a back injury and spent the rest of the summer in a brace. She struggled the following season, and in June 2016, learned she had a stress fracture in her back. She redoubled her off-ice recovery efforts, taking up Pilates and more physical therapy, in order to come back the next season.
Major competitions/ medals
In the summer of 2017, Tennell won two small competitions to open her Olympic season. Then, she competed at the Lombardia Trophy in Italy and placed fourth. She was invited to compete Thanksgiving weekend at Skate America, her first-ever senior Grand Prix assignment. Tennell won a surprise bronze medal – that’s when the Olympic buzz about Tennell began.
Tennell won the 2018 U.S. national title ahead of Mirai Nagasu (silver medalist) and Karen Chen (bronze medalist)
She’s the first U.S. ladies singles skater to win a medal at her Grand Prix debut in a decade. Caroline Zhang last did it in 2007.
“I see the opening, but I don’t get ahead of myself. I let [the Olympic talk] go on in the background. I’m aware it’s there, but I don’t focus on it.” – Tennell said to IceNetwork
The 2018 PyeongChang Olympics will be Tennell’s first Games.
Outside the rink
Tennell takes classes at a local community college to get her general education credits out of the way. She doesn’t know what she’d like to major in yet, but it’s probably something in the science or medical fields. “I really just want to help people and help improve their quality of life,” she said.
Her mom is a registered nurse and her two younger brothers, Austin and Shane, play ice hockey.