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Bradie Tennell eating up the Yuletide spirit before prepping for defense of national title

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Reigning U.S. ladies’ champion and 2018 Olympian Bradie Tennell is filled with Christmas spirit. Her family’s tree is up and decorated, she has her Christmas pajamas ready, and most of her gift shopping has been done.

“We have a Christmas Eve tradition where my mom always makes crepes,” said Tennell. “She fills them with applesauce. She asks if we want cinnamon applesauce or regular applesauce. Everyone always wants cinnamon apple sauce. So, we end up eating the regular applesauce with spoons out of dishes.”

Crepe preparation takes about two hours. By the time it’s finished, some are cold, so they warm them up in the oven. The family watches a Christmas movie together while eating the crepes. Tennell, 20, is the oldest of three kids. Brother Austin is 19 and Shane is 17. For Christmas day, Tennell is going to try and make a pumpkin pie.

Some skaters move away to train, but Tennell has been able to live at home with her family while training at the elite level. She considers herself fortunate to have her mother and brothers present in her daily life.

“It’s played a huge part,” she said. “My family is so important to me. All these traditions shape who you are as a person. Being able to hear about my brothers’ days at school every day or go to my mom with a random topic, like a problem, even some funny story that happened that day, it’s been really awesome. I’m so grateful I have the resources here to be able to live at home.”

The Christmas Eve crepes and a movie is strictly for Tennell, her mother and brothers. She doesn’t have a favorite Christmas movie and admitted she hasn’t yet seen classics like White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, but said she’s going to check them out.

Tennell’s mother, Jean, is a nurse, but she makes it a point to not work on Christmas Eve. “She’s really proactive about making sure she’s home on Christmas Eve because both we’re huge Christmas fans,” said Tennell. “We love Christmas.”

The Christmas tree went up the weekend after Tennell got home from Internationaux de France. She caught up on TV shows while decorating the tree.

“Putting the tree up is a big task, but my favorite part of Christmas is coming home and seeing the tree every day,” said Tennell. “I learned how to put up the Christmas tree from my mom, obviously. My favorite part is she always puts so many lights on, so the tree is bright and beautiful. Over the years, I’ve collected quite a few skate ornaments, so you can always tell which ornaments are mine.”

She brought a couple of ornaments back from her recent trip to Golden Spin of Zagreb, which she won. Tennell also does some of her Christmas shopping during her skating travels. Shopping overseas enables her to find new and unusual things.

“You’ve got all these really unique gifts for people,” she said. “It’s really fun for me to give my friends and family gifts from overseas. The looks on their faces when they see a really interesting gift is so much fun for me to see.”

Bradie Tennell and her mother at the Golden Spin competition in Croatia. / Credit: Courtesy of Bradie Tennell

Gifts are opened on Christmas morning and she does not reveal in advance what she got someone. Tennell will be wearing Christmas pajamas and her mother has a pair of Mickey Mouse Christmas pajamas that she likes to wear.

As Christmas approaches, Tennell can be found channeling the season at the ice rink. She wears green pants paired with the brightest red shirt she has. The fun of it makes the training day go by more easily.

Shortly after Christmas, Tennell heads to Lake Placid, N.Y. for Stars on Ice. There will be no overindulging on Christmas, but she definitely will have at least a couple of Christmas cookies.

“How can you not?” she said.

Looking back on her 2018, Tennell knows it’s been a good year—winning a U.S. title, going to the Olympics and winning a bronze medal in the team competition. Her Olympic gear is perfect for the cold Illinois winters.

“The jacket is so warm,” she said. “It’s great to whip that out when I’m going to my brother’s hockey game.”

Right after the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Tennell turns 21, but she hasn’t given that big birthday too much thought.

“Why don’t we get through nationals first, and then I’ll focus on that,” she said.

As a reminder, you can watch the U.S. Championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Tahiti chosen for Olympic surfing competition at 2024 Paris Games

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Paris 2024 Olympic organizers want the surfing competition to be held in Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia that is about 9,800 miles from Paris.

It would break the record for the farthest Olympic medal competition to be held outside the host. In 1956, equestrian events were moved out of Melbourne due to quarantine laws and held five months earlier in Stockholm, some 9,700 miles away.

The Paris 2024 executive board approved the site Thursday — specifically, the village of Teahupo’o — and will propose it to the IOC. It beat out other applicants Biarritz, Lacanau, Les Landes and La Torche, all part of mainland France.

Surfing will debut at the 2020 Tokyo Games but is not on the permanent Olympic program. Surfing was among sports added to the Paris 2024 program in June and could be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

MORE: U.S. athletes qualified for Tokyo Olympics

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Adam Jones, five-time MLB All-Star, becomes Olympic eligible

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Should the U.S. qualify for baseball’s Olympic return, a five-time MLB All-Star could be eligible for its roster in Tokyo. And he has interest.

Outfielder Adam Jones signed with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s domestic league, which, unlike MLB, will take an Olympic break next summer to allow players to take part in the first Olympic baseball tournament in 12 years.

Jones, 34, made no mention of Olympic eligibility in a social media post announcing the signing. His Instagram avatar is a photo of him in a Team USA jersey from the World Baseball Classic.

Jones’ agent later said that Jones does have interest in playing for the U.S. in Tokyo, should an American team qualify in the spring.

“To play over in Japan has always been a desire of Adam’s, and the timing worked out that the Olympics happens to be played in Tokyo the first year of his contract,” Jones’ agent wrote in an email. “It wasn’t one of the factors on his decision BUT more of a [sic] addition to the overall package to decide to go.”

Jones called being part of the U.S.’ 2017 WBC title, “probably the best experience of my life so far, especially with sports,” according to The Associated Press. He was one of five players to be on the U.S. team at each of the last two World Baseball Classics.

The U.S. still faces a difficult task to qualify for the Tokyo Games. It lost to Mexico last month in its first of up to three chances at qualifying tournaments, using a roster of mostly double-A and triple-A caliber players.

Major Leaguers are not expected to be made available for qualifying or for the Tokyo Games.

The next two qualifying tournaments will be in late March (an Americas qualifier in Arizona) and early April (a final, global qualifying event in Chinese Taipei). It remains to be seen how MLB clubs will go about releasing minor leaguers for a tournament that will take place during spring training.

Jones could become the third player with prior MLB All-Star experience to compete at the Olympics from any nation, joining Australian catcher Dave Nilsson and Canadian pitcher Jason Dickson.

Jones made five All-Star teams during an 11-year stint with the Baltimore Orioles from 2008-18 before playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season.

Many players competed at the Olympics before making an MLB All-Star team, including Stephen Strasburg and Jason Giambi.

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