Bradie Tennell becomes Olympic contender at Skate America (video)

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Calling 19-year-old Bradie Tennell a contender to make the Olympic team does not do her justice anymore. She performed like a favorite at Skate America this weekend.

In her senior Grand Prix debut, Tennell earned bronze in Lake Placid, N.Y., with 204.10 points, the highest score by a U.S. woman in international competition since the March 2016 World Championships.

“I was speechless,” Tennell said on NBC. “I still can’t believe it.

“I’m still shaking.”

She shared a podium with Japanese Satoko Miyahara (214.03) and Kaori Sakamoto (210.59).

MORE: Full Results | Figure Skating TV Schedule

Tennell, the 2015 U.S. junior champion, was ninth at last season’s senior nationals after reportedly being slowed by stress fractures in her lower back since May 2015.

She was still young enough for March’s junior worlds, where she was sent and finished seventh.

Tennell then impressed enough in a closed-door U.S. Figure Skating camp in August to earn the third and final American spot in the Skate America field.

“I haven’t been able to train consistently,” in past seasons, Tennell said. “This year, I’ve really been able to kind of get back into the flow of things. I feel like that’s shown in how I’m skating.”

She joined Ashley Wagner and Karen Chen, the top two U.S. women last season, in Lake Placid, openly questioning her confidence on this stage.

Unaccomplished. Unfazed. Tennell outperformed both U.S. champions (though Wagner withdrew during her free skate with an ankle injury, more on that here).

Tennell received positive grades of execution on all 15 of her jumps between two programs. With zero under rotations.

Her score is not Olympic medal caliber, but none of the U.S. women have impressed this season. Tennell is the top U.S. woman in the world rankings this season in 12th place.

The Olympic team will be chosen by a committee, based not only on nationals results but by performances in major competition from the last year.

“I did my job,” Tennell said. “I think I have [put myself in the Olympic conversation].”

If Tennell repeats her Skate America performances at U.S. Champs, even with a lack of senior international experience, she’s likely headed to PyeongChang.

Unthinkable even a few months ago.

“I’m just going to go there and do what I know how to do and, you know, let the chips fall where they may,” she said.

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VIDEO: Skater dislocates shoulder in Skate America fall

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Top U.S. women’s scores this season
Bradie Tennell — 204.10
Mirai Nagasu — 194.46
Mariah Bell — 188.56
Ashley Wagner — 183.94
Angela Wang — 183.85
Karen Chen — 182.80

Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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