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

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

Caster Semenya allowed to race 800m at Pre Classic

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Caster Semenya has been switched from the 3000m to the 800m at next week’s Pre Classic, marking her first scheduled 800m since a Swiss Supreme Court ruling allowed her to race her Olympic gold-medal distance while she appeals a new IAAF testosterone rule.

“Caster’s representation requested that she be moved from the 3,000 meters (where she was originally entered) to the 800 meters, and we are happy to comply,” Prefontaine Classic meet director Tom Jordan said in a statement, confirming a Reuters report.

NBC Sports airs live Pre Classic coverage on June 30 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, was originally entered in the 3000m because the rule bars her from races between 400m and the mile unless she takes testosterone-suppressing measures, under which she would be allowed to return to those distances late this year. Semenya refuses to take those measures.

A Swiss Supreme Court ruling two weeks ago lifted the restriction for Semenya — but not other athletes — while her appeal is pending. The IAAF has until Monday to respond to the court before a ruling could be made. A resolution could still be months away, with Semenya possibly able to race until that day comes.

Semenya has won 30 straight 800m races dating to 2015, including the Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships. All three Rio Olympic 800m medalists have said they are affected by the new rule capping testosterone in women’s races between the 400m and mile.

That meant none raced at Diamond League stops in Stockholm and Rabat, Morocco, earlier this month. Last Sunday’s Rabat meet offered Semenya a late invite, more than a week after her restriction was lifted, but Semenya said it was too late for her to travel in time to race.

American record holder Ajeé Wilson won the Stockholm 800m without any of the Olympic medalists in the field.

MORE: Caster Semenya to IAAF: Focus on dopers, not us

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Geraint Thomas crashes out of Tour de France prep race

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) — Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas crashed in a cycling race, days after teammate Chris Froome was involved in a season-ending accident in France.

Team INEOS said Thomas should be fine to start the Tour de France on July 6 despite having to drop out of the fourth stage of the nine-day Tour de Suisse race in Switzerland.

“Clearly it’s frustrating and a small setback for my Tour de France preparations, but there’s still plenty of time before we start in Brussels in a few weeks’ time,” Thomas said, according to the team.

The team says on Twitter that Thomas “was alert and speaking to the team after the crash and will be taken to hospital for checks.”

Thomas had a ripped jersey and cuts on his back and shoulder after hitting the road with about 18 miles left in the stage. He was in eighth place, 28 seconds behind race leader Peter Sagan.

Thomas won the 2018 Tour after Froome won four times between 2013 and 2017.

Watch world-class cycling events throughout the year with the NBC Sports Gold Cycling Pass, including all 21 stages of the Tour de France live & commercial-free, plus access to renowned races like La Vuelta, Paris-Roubaix, the UCI World Championships and many more.

MORE: NBC Sports launches Cycling Pass for 2019-20 season

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