Bradie is back.
Bradie Tennell, winner of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2018 leading up to the PyeongChang Winter Games, re-claimed her title with two stirring skates in Las Vegas, where the competition is taking place without fans at the Orleans Arena.
The 2018 Olympian scored a 153.21 in the free skate for a 232.61 overall.
Two-time and reigning U.S. champion Alysa Liu earned her third consecutive U.S. podium with a 213.39 for fourth, while Mariah Bell was fifth with a 199.95 after struggling in her free skate.
Tennell also became the first American woman in over 100 years to win a second U.S. title three years after her first: Theresa Weld did so in 1920, having first won in 1914.
Earlier in the day, 2015 and 2020 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates took the slimmest of leads in the ice dance, scoring a new national record of 90.10 in the rhythm dance, a 0.46 lead over training mates Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, the 2018 and 2019 U.S. winners. See more on the ice dance below.
'Attack'-mode Tennell shines brightest
For the past two years at nationals, it had been Liu who had been in attack mode, armed with quad jumps and a triple Axel. She became the youngest national champ ever in 2019. But Tennell had stuck around, winning a bronze and silver, respectively, and this past season switched her coaching arrangement, moving to Colorado Springs from her native Chicago.
While she was a tad shaky at Skate America in October, there were no signs of any rust for Tennell this weekend, saying she wanted to be on the attack in the short program, and then confirming what she showed on the ice to reporters after: There was nothing she wanted more than her national title back.
"Winning my title back means everything to me," she said. "It was one of my driving forces behind moving to Colorado.
"It’s why I wake up in the morning. They say it’s about the journey and not the destination, but the destination feels pretty good too." -- Bradie Tennell
Tennell opened her free skate with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, then didn't hesitate thereafter, earning positive grades of execution (GOEs) throughout in a program set to "Sarajevo" and "Dawn of the Faith."
Tennell added: "I’m kind of speechless. That was the performance I wanted to give. I’m so happy to perform the way that I wanted to.
Glenn, Chen, Liu go 2-3-4
It was a career weekend for Glenn, who said in 2015 she stepped away from the sport in full to re-evaluate her skating, having been junior national champion in 2014. Never having landed on the podium, she came into nationals with a trained triple Axel and a determination to put together two strong programs, something she has struggled to do in the past.
But after landing a downgraded triple Axel in the short program, she didn't attempt the jump in the free, instead skating with abandon to "Rain in Your Black Eyes." After finishing, she couldn't quite believe her score, putting her head in her hands as it came through.
"I was in shock," she said. Adding that since nearly leaving the sport she has changed her perspective: "My mindset has been about me skating for my own happiness; I wanted to skate for me."
It was a third national bronze medal for Chen, the 2017 U.S. champion. The Bay Area, California, native has said she, too, is re-dedicated to the sport after taking the year away from Cornell University for school.
While the fourth-place finish came from two strong skates for Liu, who has grown three inches (7.6cm) in the last year, it was a disappointment for Bell, who fell on a triple flip and did not give the same sort of memorable performance that helped her earn silver at nationals a year ago.
Ice dance: Chock/Bates lead by slimmest of margins
No competition in nearly a year? No problem.
Chock and Bates, based in Montreal along with Hubbell and Donohue and third-place team Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, hadn’t competed since Four Continents, held in February of 2020.
The two-time Olympic duo skipped Skate America in October – which Hubbell and Donohue won – citing lack of training time on the ice to feel sufficiently ready.
Some three months later they looked more than prepared on Saturday in Las Vegas, skating to Cole Porter’s “Too Darn Hot” and not missing a step, opening with a compelling straight line lift in which Chock stood up on Bates’ bent leg, then earning level fours and positive GOEs for each of their executed elements with the exception of Chock's twizzle.
“It means that we’ve been doing the right thing and surrounding ourselves with the right people,” Chock told NBC Sports TV. “We’ve been training really well and staying focused on our goals and enjoying ourselves.”
“We were nervous at the hotel earlier today, but as the time came to step on the ice we found it again... the calm and connection, the bond,” Bates later told reporters.
“There were some extra butterflies... we’ve never experienced an ordeal like we’ve been through (with the pandemic). It’s all been bizarre.” - Evan Bates
Hubbell and Donohue are nipping at Chock and Bates’ skate boots, setting up what should be a tight-as-can-be free dance on Saturday.
Hawayek and Baker scored a 85.28 for their spot in third, while Caroline Green and Michael Parsons are fourth, registering a 80.10.