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25 April 2024

Tennell wins US title, homes in on Olympic berth

Bradie Tennell celebrates in the kiss and cry after the Ladies Free Skate during the 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships at the SAP Center. (AFP/Getty)


Bradie Tennell won her first US ladies' figure skating title on Friday with a near-flawless performance that is all but sure to earn her a trip to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next month.

Tennell, skating a free program to "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," electrified the crowd at the SAP Center in San Jose, California, landing each of her jumps en route to a total of 219.51 points.

Mirai Nagasu, a 2010 Olympian who was passed over four years ago, finished second with 213.84, bursting into tears of relief and joy after completing a free skate that included a less-than perfect triple Axel and a bevy of triple jumps.

"Being left off the team (in 2014) has pushed me to become a stronger skater," Nagasu said this week. "It was a very hard thing to accept."

Karen Chen, the 2017 US champion, finished third with 198.59 points and will likely be named to the third and final US Olympic women's berth when the lineup is announced on Saturday.

Ashley Wagner, who got a 2014 Olympic nod instead of Nagasu, finished fourth with 196.19 points and could well find herself the odd woman out this time around.

The selection committee will weigh the results of these championships as well as other major events. In addition to finishing off the podium in San Jose, and Wagner's Grand Prix season was disrupted by a leg infection.

Wagner said she "skated with heart" as she performed the "La La Land" program she had gone back to only about a month ago.

"I delivered something that was solid and something that I'm proud of," she said. "I want to be on the Olympic team and I'm really mad that I'm in this position again."