All three of Tennell’s scores – 67.01 for the short, 137.09 in the free and 204.10 total – were personal bests.
With the bronze, Tennell becomes the first U.S. woman since Caroline Zhang in 2007 to medal at her grand prix debut.
Performing her short program to music from the film “Taeguki” by Lee Dong-Jun and a free skate to a “Cinderella” medley by Patrick Doyle, Tennell skated two clean programs in Lake Placid, which included nine triples.
It would be dubbed a dream competition for many skaters, but proved to be just another day at the office for Tennell.
“You know, I felt really prepared so I kind of just went out there and did what I’ve been training to do,” she said of her performances.
Just as the even-keel Tennell was not overly ecstatic about her result, neither was her coach, Denise Myers.
“No, it’s really what she does every day,” Myers said when asked if she was surprised by her pupil’s performances. “She works hard, she stays focused… Pretty much this is what I see each day. She really does skate clean programs each day.”
It had been a while since Tennell’s body allowed her to be that consistent. After making a name for herself by winning the 2015 U.S. junior title, Tennell’s training was limited for two straight seasons with stress fractures to her lower back vertebrae suffered in May 2015 and June 2016.
Now that she’s back to full health and has shown the world what she’s capable of, there’s talk of whether she can podium – or even win – at the 2018 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January.
“I do (allow myself to dream about it), but I like to take things one day at a time,” Tennell said. “So I focus on what’s in the present and leave that in the future.”
Skating never, ever disappoints. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, or seen it all, everything changes.
Take the women’s short program Wednesday night at the 2018 U.S. figure skating national championships. Veteran Ashley Wagner, the heavily promoted face of the fall Olympic preview season, is in trouble.
Another veteran, Mirai Nagasu, flubbed her big jump, but still was rewarded for her efforts. Last year’s national champion, Karen Chen, rebounded from a difficult season with an elegant skate at just the right moment.
And a star is born — or close to it, anyway. Bradie Tennell, the 19-year-old with the highest international score of any U.S. woman this season, continued her rise with a technically impeccable short program.
When it was over, Tennell stood in first place with 73.79 points, followed closely by Nagasu with 73.09. Next came Chen with 69.48, upstart Angela Wang with 67.00 and then Wagner with a disappointing but hardly distant 65.94.