Bradie Tennell waves to the crowd at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 23, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea.
At this time last year, Bradie Tennell was unknown to all but the most steadfast followers of figure skating.
On Friday night, she made her season debut as defending U.S. champion and 2018 Olympic medalist and put on a display of power, grace and her trademark clean routine and won the gold medal at the Autumn Classic International in Ontario, Canada.
Tennell, 20, was second after the short program, trailing only two-time world champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva, of Russia, by just 1.72 points.
Tennell’s free skate to “Romeo & Juliet” by Tchaikovsky showcased her tenacity and technical prowess, as she cleanly landed jump after jump, including a triple lutz-triple loop combination, as well as intricate footwork and transition elements and ended with a beautiful spinning sequence to earn her an international personal best of 137.15 for the program and 206.41 total.
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Tennell, from Carpentersville, Illinois, was ninth at her Olympic debut last year and sixth place in her world championship debut to close out her season in March. She won her bronze medal in the Olympic team competition.
She will compete at Skate America in Everett, Washington, Oct. 19-21 to kick off the grand prix schedule.
Earlier in the evening, Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, 2017 U.S. national champions in pairs, won the bronze medal with 164.43 points. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, of France, came in first with 210.21 points followed by Canadian pair Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro with 176.32 points. Americans Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson were fourth.
The competition continues on Saturday with the men's free skate and ice dancing.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.