Athlete Profile: Bradie Tennell, figure skater
By Colette A. Harris
Figure skater Bradie Tennell, 19, is just getting warmed up. The 2015 U.S. Junior Champion is fresh off successes at her first international events of the season. She won the Philadelphia Summer International in August and placed fourth at Lombardia Trophy in September. This month, she’s making her senior Grand Prix debut at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y. With the 2018 US Championships and Olympic team selection only a few months away, Tennell is peaking at the just the right time. While thoughts of the Olympics always surface, for Tennell’s part, she’s focused on putting out solid performances at each of her events, staying in the moment, and taking each competition as it comes.
GOLD: What was your outlook heading into this season? Were the Olympics in the back of your mind?
BT: I just wanted to improve upon last year. The last two years I’ve had back injuries and I haven’t been able to train like I’ve wanted to. This season, it’s all about me staying healthy so that I can put out a program I know I am capable of. The Olympics are definitely in the back of my mind, but I don’t like to put expectations on myself.
GOLD: You’re competing at your first senior Grand Prix event, Skate America, this month. What are your hopes for that competition?
BT: I really just want to go and soak up as much of the experience as I can. I’m extremely excited to be going. I’m really looking forward to being there and competing against some of the world’s best.
GOLD: Back injuries have hampered your training for the last few years. How has going through injuries and the recovery process changed your outlook on skating and training?
BT: 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. 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.
GOLD: What do you love about skating?
BT: I really just love skating by itself. Jumping is my favorite part of the sport, but if I’m out there and kind of messing around, I really just love skating, putting the music on, and just letting it carry me.
GOLD: As you gain more experience as a competitor, what’s something you know now that you wish you’d known as a younger athlete?
BT: When one thing goes wrong, it’s not the end of the world. When I broke my back I thought it was the end. And then I was like, No, wait. I can come back from this this. My mom really helped me with that. I had just come off of winning nationals and I was like, now what do I do because I’m sitting at home all summer, you know? It was hard for me, but my mom really helped me with learning how to alter my mindset. She said I needed to take one thing at a time and do what I needed to in order to get better.
GOLD: If you make a mistake during training or an event, what tools do you use to overcome it?
BT: I don’t dwell on it. If I get hung up on one mistake, then it leads to two and three and four. I just don’t think that’s productive. I try to keep a positive outlook on things. If I mess something up I’ll be like, Okay that didn’t work. What can I do to make it work?
GOLD: You’ve worked with the same coach, Denise Myers, for almost ten years. How does your longstanding relationship with each other help you on competition day?
BT: When you stick with one person they get to know you and know what works for you. I feel like that’s important in a competitive setting because everybody has his or her own way of prepping for a competition. You’re in this big and highly competitive setting and you’re obviously going to be nervous, but you don’t have to worry about what your coach is thinking of you. Your coach is used to how you prepare because you’ve been with them for so long. The comfort level is there. We’re familiar with each other.
Hometown: Carpentersville, IL
Training Rink: Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove, IL
Fav Book: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
Fav TV Show: Supernatural
Fav Quote: "If you're afraid of falling, then don't look down." (from Imagine Dragons "Walking the Wire")
Fav Food: ice cream
Fav Subject: English
Hobbies: hanging with friends and family, reading, cooking
Fav dish to cook: big pot of chili
If you weren’t a skater you’d be: a skier or swimmer
Follow Bradie’s skating journey on her new website: http://bradietennell.figureskatersonline.com/
Photo at top: courtesy of Bradie Tennell (photo credit: Kelly Canaan)
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