Breakout star Bradie Tennell, who brought down the house with her unflappable performances at the U.S. championships last month, and ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani have been selected as the next athletes to compete for Team USA in the Olympic figure skating team event in PyeongChang.
They will compete in their respective short programs on Sunday.
Tennell, who was crowned national champion after her nearly flawless routines, will make her Olympic debut with the team competition. The 20-year-old from Carpentersville, Illinois, wasn’t in the conversation a year or even six months ago when it came to Olympic hopefuls, but a bronze medal at Skate America last fall and then her two giant performances at nationals changed all that.
The Shibutani siblings — known among fans as the Shib Sibs — have for several years been among the nation’s and world’s top ice dance duos. They competed at the Olympics for the first time in Sochi in 2014, finishing ninth, but in the past two years they’ve won a silver (2016) and bronze (2017) medal at the world championships, as well as bronze medals both years at the ISU Grand Prix Final.
In the team event, countries compete with a short program and free skate in all four disciplines: men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance. They’re scored as they normally are in competition, but an athlete’s placement earns points for his or her country. A first-place finish gets 10 points, second gets nine, etc.
Nathan Chen competed in the men’s short program for Team USA as the competition got underway on Friday prior to the Opening Ceremony, while married pairs couple Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim skated the short program. Each finished fourth, putting the U.S. in second place with 14 points, behind Canada with 17.
Each country is allowed two substitutions for the free skates, but one of them won’t be for pairs. Scimeca-Knierim and Knierim are the only Americans entered in the Olympic pairs competition, so they will also compete in the free skate on Sunday.
The U.S. won bronze in the team event in 2014, the first year it was held.