Merriam-Webster defines figure skating as, “Skating characterized by the performance of various jumps, spins, and dance movements and formerly by the tracing of prescribed figures.” It’s a sport characterized by grace, elegance, and coordination – things that might be difficult for a skater who has dealt with a fractured back for two years.
Bradie Tennell endured intense physical therapy, began pilates, and stayed off the ice for a while, according to Ice Network. She didn’t immediately bounce back with force, yet she eventually landed harder jumps and became a tough competitor. She’d basically been skating since she could walk, starting at just two years old. When she’s not skating, she enjoys reading, swimming, writing, and spending time with loved ones.
“I don’t even know how I figured out what skating was,” she told People Magazine. “My parents were in between houses at the time and I just kept begging my mom to go ice skating. She looked it up in the yellow pages, for the closest rink. And she took me to go skating.”
Her short program this year is to a song from a Korean film, Taeguki, and her free skate program, Cinderella, from the 2015 soundtrack and Prokofiev. In just a few short weeks, Tennell will compete in the 2018 South Korea Winter Games.
“This girl is so consistent––there is no other word to describe her,” a commentator said about her performance.
According to the LA Times, Tennell earned the highest short program score ever at the U.S. Championships with her flawless routine. Former Olympic medalist and ABC broadcaster Tara Lipinski admired her mature level of performance and focus.
“When I watched her skate in comparison to the rest of group, she had not only a very consistent technical arsenal and she never misses––that mentally she has blinders on––and that’s very difficult as a competitor to do,” Lipinski said.
Tennell experiences nerves like any skater, yet pushes them aside and remains confident.
“I just had to keep calm and focus on what I knew I could do,” Tennell told the Associated Press. “There’s the initial butterflies, but I kind of start to lose myself and keep going.
She first dreamed of competing in the Olympics after she won the 2015 U.S. junior title, according to Team USA. She also was the novice bronze medalist in 2013 and the 2017 Skate America Bronze Medalist, her website states. Furthermore, she competed at the ISU World Championships in 2016 and 2017 and received two awards: the Janet Lynn Award and Hershberger Award.
“A lot of past Olympians have won the junior title, so 16-year-old me was like, ‘this is the first step in going to the Olympics,’” Tennell said.
Tennell skates for Skokie Valley FSC and trains for several hours each day at the Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion under the direction of coaches Denise Myers and Jeremy Allen and choreographers Scott Brown and Benoit Richaud. Her injuries have impacted her training methods, but nevertheless, she has persevered through her struggles with passion.
“Well, I definitely had to reevaluate what I was doing in my training. I don’t do as many layback spins anymore. It was definitely hard for me, being off of the ice for that long [twice for three months], because I’d never been off that long before,” she told Gold Athlete Magazine. “I never gave up on myself though. When I came back, it was like I rediscovered why I loved the sport. It allowed me to fall in love with it all over again.”
Although many may not have heard Bradie Tennell’s name before her most recent performance, her perseverance shines in her performance. As her star power grows, her incredible effort will inspire other people – athletes and non-athletes alike – who might be dealing with difficult circumstances.
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