Isabeau Levetto presents the Figure Skating Nationals short program as a favourite

San Jose, California – Brady Tenniel She stood at the end of the boards, her back to the ice surface, her attention trying to absorb what her coach was dictating, Benoit Richaudshe was telling in the final seconds before taking to the ice for Thursday’s short program at the US Figure Skating Championships.

It was hard for Tennell to stay focused—or even hear—what Richaud was saying. A group of kids from the US Figure Skating Development Camp, who were sitting in the stands near Tenniel, started screaming their lungs out when they were shown on the SAP Center video board. Harry Stiles“Watermelon Sugar” was blasting at about 10 million decibels on the arena’s sound system.

“It was very distracting,” Tennell said, eschewing the usual athletes’ cliché about nothing being able to break her focus. “But the past year has taught me that nothing comes easy.”

It was a year of injuries, recurrences, and new ones. A year in which the two-time U.S. champion was physically unable to compete for a spot on a second Olympic team in 2022. A year when Tennell turned her life upside down, moving to France to train with Richaud, only to face more setbacks.

“I’ve definitely had my share of bumps on the way here,” Tennell said. “This was a long time in the making.”

Snowboarding Nationals: Complete scores | broadcast schedule

It was second place in the short program, Sharpe behind event favourite Isabeau Levetto. This was Tennell’s comparable performance only with unexpected errors in the courses, the last of seven items in the short program. This was a statement for anyone wondering if you could ever be a factor in sports again.

“I’m back, baby,” she said, and her uncharacteristic courage was tempered by a laugh.

Richaud agreed.

“People can see the job we’ve done, and see the improvement,” Richaud said. “Obviously the message tonight is that Brady is one of the best skaters in the world.”

Her skating was more mature and dexterous, with remarkable flow and attention to detail in hand movement and body position. She vowed never to be late in her programming, knowing that every second could produce more points.

“I’m the new and improved Brady,” she said. “I never limit myself.”

Tennell opened with a solid triple-triple-toe combo, the first time she’d landed such a combo cleanly since winning the 2021 Nationals. I followed that up with a strong triple flip and a good double excel. A slip in her flying session and a faulty spin would cost her the points she dropped behind Levito, 73.78 to 73.76, to go into the free skate on Friday night.

“I made some silly mistakes on the spin,” Tenniel said. “I think I’m very excited.”

As pleased as Tennell was with the result, she again heard the two voices quarreling inside her head. Someone says stick with it once you’re competitive again; The other wants to win.

“One was jumping up and down with the pellets,” Tenniel said. “The other was, “But you don’t get[the]higher levels of spin.”

Star Andrews She finished third, scoring 68.97, her highest score in any of the six Nationals she competed in. Five years ago in that building, 16-year-old Andrews had made an impressive debut while finishing sixth, but she struggled to build on that promise.

“Of course, I wondered if it would happen again,” Andrews said.

She helped Andrews recapture that past glory by wearing the same sparkly scarlet hue she wore in 2018.

“It was kind of full circle,” said Andrews. “It was really amazing to be there again. I felt really comfortable and confident.”

Tenniel also created a defining moment on the field in 2018, winning the national title after finishing ninth a year earlier and going on to win bronze in the Olympic team event.

“This is where all my skating madness began,” she said.

She, too, has expressed that she feels like she’s come full circle. There was another moment on her mind as aural frenzy swept over her as Richaud, whom Tenniel calls a “commanding presence,” tried to keep her cool by repeating things he had told her earlier in the season, when it was her return to competition. fraught with poor performance.

Tennell had her mind set at the 2019 Nationals in Detroit, when she won the short program but dealt poorly with an unexpected distraction before the free skate.

“I couldn’t regain my focus after that,” she said.

The result was an unbroken fourth in the free skate, second overall and a pledge to learn from it.

“I always told myself if it happened again, I would handle it better,” she recalls.

And I did.

Philip Hirsch, who has covered snowboarding for the last 12 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to

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