Feature | Figure Skating

Figure skater Bradie Tennell on Beijing 2022 and how quarantine and a coaching change led to her second U.S. Nationals triumph

Olympic bronze medal winner Bradie Tennell on triple axels, quarantine, and why she's excited to witness a potential Beijing 2022 storyline at this year's world championships

By Ed Knowles ·

It should be no surprise that, as a figure skater, Bradie Tennell loves to be on the ice.

During some enforced time away from the ice, she had a thought.

“Quarantine really allowed me to take a breath,” the Olympic team bronze medallist said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“It made me realise that some of the things that I was working towards weren't happening.”

It was time for a change. A visit to Colorado and a session with coach Tom Zakrajsek went well. Bradie sat her mother down and told her that she wanted to stay.

“I think [the time off] allowed me to see everything in a different perspective.”

The change has paid dividends already. She became the 2021 U.S. National ladies' singles champion in January with a breathtaking performance.

“I love working with Tom. We have a really great ‘coach / athlete relationship’. And I think I'm just really enjoying where I'm at right now.”

Bradie Tennell has changed coaches and found a new confidence in her figure skating

Bradie Tennell: Phoning her mother after U.S. Nationals win

For Bradie’s mother, her daughter’s triumph at the 2021 nationals was natural moment to savour.

It’s made all the more special due to the difficult work circumstances that she’s currently facing in her hospital work.

“She's a nurse and she's been working with a lot of covid patients recently,” Bradie said.

Bradie returned home for the first time since Thanksgiving after she won her second national title.

“I'm grateful that she's still safe and healthy and everything, but it's been really nice to to see her and catch up and everything.”

The pair have a close bond. And Bradie was so excited to speak to mum after winning - she answered her phone call live on national television.

“She was crying and I was crying… we were both crying… It was really great.”

Bradie Tennell celebrates at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

Bradie Tennell: Comparison with old performances leads to a realisation

Sitting in her bed with her computer, Bradie has gone back into the archives to compare her performance at the 2021 Nationals to the one in 2018.

“I didn't realise how different my skating is now than it was back then," she tells the Olympic Channel Podcast.

"[When] you're in the moment, in your training every day, you don't feel those small changes happening. You don't feel how much you're improving.

“So, to go back and watch it and see the difference…it was crazy.”

Bradie seems more confident on the ice, and the reason is pretty simple.

“I think it's coming from me growing up… I think I'm just more sure of myself now.”

Bradie Tennell (USA) - 9th Place | Women's Free Skating

The women's single free figure skating competition was held at the Gangneun...

Bradie Tennell on the triple axel rumours

The national title means that Bradie has a shot at being world champion.

The championships are scheduled for 22-28 March 2021 in Stockholm, Sweden.

Karen Chen and Bradie will represent the United States in the female section.

With the Russian team members landing quads, it will be difficult for the Americans to challenge the podium.

But Bradie is rumoured to be working on a triple axel which would boost her scores.

For the moment, she’s tight-lipped about whether that particular jump will make it into the public eye.

“I love to keep a little mystery...

“But, it definitely would be a very cool skill to have.”

Yuzuru Hanyu performs to Chopin's Ballade No.1 | Music Mondays

Yuzuru Hanyu performs to Frederic Chopin's Ballade No.1 in his short progra...

Bradie Tennell: Excitement surrounding Hanyu Yuzuru and Nathan Chen rivalry ahead of Beijing 2022

So, what is the goal for Bradie at the world championships?

“I want to put down two of my best performances. And, as long as I do that, I will be happy with myself because I think I proved to myself that my best is pretty good.”

There’s also an incredible battle between men's double Olympic champion Hanyu Yuzuru and double world champion Nathan Chen to enjoy.

“I think they are the two greatest figure skaters in the world,” she shares with us.

It’s another chapter in a rivalry that is expected to be one of the centerpieces to Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022.

With a year to go until that starts (on 4th February), Bradie is allowing herself to be excited.

“When you watch both of them skate, you know that it's going to be good.

“And there's no anxiety around their performances.

“They suck you in and you're watching them so closely. And then their program ends and you're like, ‘Wait a minute, that wasn't four minutes!’

“It's just really fun to watch.”

The countdown starts now.


4 - 20 Feb 2022

Beijing 2022 | Olympic Games