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.”
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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