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Three questions with Bradie Tennell before the U.S. Championships

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Bradie Tennell had a meteoric rise last year from relative unknown to national champion and U.S. Olympian. This year, with more eyes on her, she opened her season with a win at the Autumn Classic and most recently won Golden Spin in December. In between though, she was fourth at Skate America but earned a bronze at Grand Prix France.

At her media teleconference ahead of nationals, she said her up-and-down season had a few “bright spots,” especially coming off of an Olympic year.

Here’s what we learned:

1. She doesn’t think of herself as the U.S. lady to beat.

“That never really crossed my mind. I don’t think I think of things in terms like that. I think every time I go out on the ice, I want to do the best for myself. And as long as I do that, I’m happy.”

2. One of her goals this season was to improve the artistic side of her skating. So far, it’s working… slowly.

“In Croatia [where she won the Golden Spin competition in early December] I was a little disappointed with my performance on the artistic side. It was a little lackluster in my opinion. Having all this time afterward to train it and really work on it, I’m really hoping to see some improvement at Nationals.”

3. Despite being an Olympian and the reigning national champion, she still coaches younger skaters.

“I really love bringing all the attention to this sport, that brings new interest. It always makes my day when I see a little kid on the ice for the first or second time having so much fun.”

“It’s a lot of fun [to coach]. I really love being able to take the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained and share it with the younger kids. I think that’s something special. Not everybody gets to have that opportunity. I really love being able to one, have that opportunity, and be able to use it.”

MORE: Nathan Chen prepared to capture third national title

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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World Cup Alpine season opener gets green light

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After checking the snow on the Rettenbach glacier in Soelden, Austria, FIS officials announced Thursday that the traditional World Cup season opener is set to go ahead as planned Oct. 26-27 with men’s and women’s giant slalom races.

Current conditions at Soelden show a solid 30 inches of snow at the summit. The race finishes at an altitude of 2,670 meters (8,760 feet), far above the currently snowless village.

The first races of the season are never guaranteed to have enough snow, though last year’s men’s race at Soelden had the opposite problem, being canceled when a storm blew through with heavy snowfall and high winds. 

France’s Tessa Worley won the women’s race last year ahead of Italy’s Frederica Brignone and U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin, who would go on to dominate the rest of the World Cup season.

The Soelden weekend is followed by three dormant weeks until the season resumes Nov. 23-24 in Levi, Finland. The World Cup circuits then switch to North America. The men will run speed events Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Lake Louise, Alberta, then head to Beaver Creek, Colo., for more speed events and a giant slalom Dec. 6-8. The women run slalom and giant slalom Nov. 30-Dec. 1 in Killington, Vt., and head to Lake Louise the next weekend.

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Olympic marathon and race walk move from Tokyo to Sapporo draws some pushback

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In the wake of a dropout-plagued set of world championship endurance races in Qatar, moving the 2020 Olympic marathons and race walks from Tokyo to the cooler venue of Sapporo is a quick fix for one problem, pending the potential for untimely heat waves.

But the move has drawn some opposition for a variety of reasons.

First, many organizers and politicians appear to have been caught by surprise. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, was “taken aback” and Sapporo’s mayor, Katsuhiro Akimoto, learned about the move from the media, Kyodo News reported. Koike even sarcastically suggested that the races could move all the way northward to islands disputed by Russia and Japan.

South African sports scientist Ross Tucker suggested that running in heat and humidity poses an interesting challenge for athletes, some of whom may be able to catch up with faster runners by preparing for the conditions.

British marathoner Mara Yamauchi made a similar point, saying the move was unfair to those who already were preparing for the heat, humidity and other conditions.

Belgian marathoner Koen Naert said he will make the best of the change but complained that some of his preparation and every runner’s logistical planning would no longer apply.

The angriest athlete may be Canadian walker Evan Dunfee, who placed fourth in the 2016 Olympic 50km race and nearly claimed bronze as a Canadian appeal was upheld but then rejected. He says runners and walkers can beat the conditions if they prepare, which many athletes did not do for the world championships in Qatar.

“So why do we cater to the ill prepared?” Dunfee asked on Twitter.

The move also takes athletes out of the main Olympic city and takes away the traditional, tough less frequent in modern years, finish in the Olympic stadium.

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