Representing Team USA, Tennell commanded the ice during the ladies’ short program, making her Olympic debut in the meanwhile. Amid the event’s markedly competitive roster of skaters, the 20-year-old Illinois native turned heads with her razor-sharp routine, which she performed to the backtrack of a patriotic song by a Korean composer. Tennell’s crisp, methodical technique wow-ed judges and onlookers alike, many of whom seemed doubly impressed with the skater’s noticeable ability to keep her cool, even in the face of unyielding, pressurized circumstances. NBC’s Olympic-centric Twitter account shared a video clip from Tennell’s routine Sunday, accompanied by a duly proud caption. Echoing fans’ enthusiasm, the account wrote, “The national champion is out here dazzling. Take a bow, @bradietennell.”
Tennell’s Olympics routine, for the record, was definitely not for the faint of heart. Wrought with jumps, leaps, and turns of every variety, the routine was just about as polished as it was thrilling. Her reliability in landing the complicated series of ice acrobatics (her masterfully executed triple toe loop jump and triple lutz really stole the show) even prompted 1998 Olympic figure skating champion Tara Lipinski to dub Tennell a “machine” for her impressive consistency. But, despite the substantial bout of attention — and praise — paid to Tennell’s first-time Olympic performance, the contender for Team USA placed fifth in Sunday’s event overall, among 10 competitors who’d also brought their respective A-games. (This is the Olympics, after all.)
In the end, Tennell’s component score (which relies on an arguably more subjective set of judgement calls, evaluating choreography, transitions, and general skating aptitude) fell just a few hundredths of a point short of the event’s fourth place spot. But, the event’s first five titleholders will have the opportunity to skate once more during the program’s latter portion, which continues on into Monday. At this point, the U.S. team seems to have a solid shot at a bronze medal, trailing Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) on the scoreboards.
Still, Tennell broke her own personal record Sunday with a season-best score of 68.94. That’s certainly no small feat for the Olympic newcomer, who has skyrocketed toward international recognition in recent weeks, since Tennell won gold at the U.S. national figure skating championships last month and secured her spot on Team USA’s Olympic roster. But, prior to her explosive success this past year, Tennell had been out of the skating game for quite some time — the result of an extended series of injuries that prevented her from consistently pursuing the sport.
Ahead of her blow-out Olympic debut, some thought Tennell’s former lack of international recognition might dampen her competitive edge during the course of the winter games. But, after Tennell’s performance Sunday, the international acclaim reaped by the Olympic games’ more seasoned skaters (think: Canada’s Katelyn Osmond and OAR’s Evgenia Medvedeva, two of Tennell’s competitors) doesn’t seem too far off. And, if the young athlete’s admirably chill disposition following the ladies’ short program is any indication, it seems — Olympic medals or not — Tennell is happily enjoying the ride. In a quick televised interview immediately following Sunday night’s routine, Tennell’s pride was palpable. Speaking about what exactly was going through her head as she landed the final spin of her complex routine, Tennell told Time, “I looked up and could see the Olympic rings on one of the banners, and I thought, ‘Wow. I just did that on Olympic ice.’ That’s pretty cool.”
The 2018 Winter Olympics figure skating competition continues on Feb. 13. Here’s to hoping the rest of Tennell’s inaugural Olympic tour follows in the footsteps of her dynamite debut.
Katie Kim has the five things you need to watch today in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Primetime was again highlighted by the team figure skating event. Chicago’s Bradie Tennell was able to keep her nerves in check, skating a clean short program.
Bradie Tennell keeps United States hopes alive in women’s team figure skating event
Red Gerard delivered in his final run to capture gold in the men’s snowboard slopestyle. Lastly, the wind has created some issues, postponing men’s downhill and women’s snowboard slopestyle.
Winter Olympics, Figure Skating Team Event medal results, highlights and more
1. Figure Skating: Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Bradie Tennell Hit the Ice
Unknown a Year Ago, Figure Skater Bradie Tennell Makes Her Olympic Debut — and Earns a Season-Best
Bradie Tennell made her Olympic debut Saturday, and she didn’t disappoint as she scored a 68.94 in the short program portion of the team figuring skating competition.
Unfortunately for Tennell, the performance was only good for a fifth place finish, as Evgenia Medvedeva from the Olympic Athletes from Russia squad won with a dazzling 81.06 score.
PYEONGCHNAG, SOUTH KOREA – Suburban figure skater Bradie Tennell is an Olympic medalist. The Carpentersville native placed fifth place in her Olympic debut after the first day of the figure skating team event in Pyeongchang, South Korea, over the weekend. Tennell’s fifth place finish, as well as strong finish by the rest of her team members, helped them earn the bronze following the team competition Monday.
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Tennell’s performance was still good enough to get six points in the competition, keeping the U.S. within range of Canada, whose Kaetlyn Osmond finished third.
Husband and wife duo Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim also skated after their debut stunner, but they finished a distant fourth in the Pair’s Free Skate and saw Team USA slip into third place in the competition, trailing Canada and the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
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The couple posted a score of 126.56, finishing well-behind Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford as they won the event.
Tennell, a Carpentersville native who trains at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove, appeared unnerved during her first time skating at a major international competition on Sunday. After her impressive performance, she told reporters she doesn’t get nervous on the ice– even on such a big stage, according to USA Today.
Winnetka Coach Preps US Skater Bradie Tennell
As for American ice dancers Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani (aka the #ShibSibs) were smooth and frenetic in their nearly three-minute ice dance routine that had the arena rocking, especially for the final minute’s nonstop Latin steps.
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MILWAUKEE, WI – JANUARY 02: Emery Lehman waves to the crowd after winning the Men’s 5000 meter event during the U.S. Speed Skating Long Track Olympic Trials at the Pettit National Ice Center on January 2, 2018 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Photo credit: Getty Images
Suburban skater Emery Lehman hit the speedskating track in the 5000 meter race, but it wasn’t his night as he finished well off the pace.
“I’m pretty tired, pretty beat up, Lehman told NBC 5’s Katie Kim, describing his race as “definitely subpar.”
US figure skating team stays in medal contention
Lehman, competing in his second Olympics, was the top American finisher in Sochi as he finished in 16th place in the event, but he couldn’t find his groove as he finished with a time of 6:31.16 in Pyeongchang.
He remains hopeful, though. “[I] got the bad run out of the way,” he said. “Now I can go into the team pursuit full throttle.”
In curling, Team USA faced Finland in a meaningless match, however Wisconsin’s brother-sister duo, the Hamilton siblings, were hoping to build on their win the day before. Instead, the U.S. lost 7-5, and the siblings finished round-robin play with only two wins.
Matt and Becca Hamilton will play again in the Games in both the men’s and women’s team events. They will begin practice with their teams on Tuesday.
The United States’ women’s hockey team went down early to Finland, but they stormed back and won their Olympic opener by a 3-1 margin.
The American squad, which has finished behind Canada in each of the last four Olympics, is looking for revenge after taking the silver medal in Sochi, and they’re off to a good start.
Kendall Coyne, an Oak Lawn native, scored the team’s second goal in the second period to give them the lead. Standing near the net, Coyne received a pass from Hilary Knight and fired home a one-timer past NooraRatyto give the American squad a 2-1 lead.
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Gerard has put the United States on the board as the 17-year-old captured gold in the slopestyle event.
Gerard’s run was good enough to fend off some of the best snowboarders in the world, and he became the youngest American to win a gold medal in Winter Olympics competition in nearly 90 years.
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Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway makes a run during the Men’s Downhill Alpine Skiing training at Jeongseon Alpine Centre on Feb. 9, 2018, in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea. Photo credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Women’s snowboard slopestyle qualifying was cancelled due to windy conditions. The final will still be held Monday (Sunday night in the U.S.), but all 27 athletes will now compete in the final, and it will be a two-run format.
The men’s downhill, the opening Alpine skiing event, was also postponed because of wind. The event will now take place on Wednesday, Feb. 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
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