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At first branded ‘Ms. Consistency,’ Bradie Tennell’s jumps lately have been more inconsistent

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DETROIT – Bradie Tennell’s rise from near obscurity to the leading U.S. women’s skater last season was built on consistency that matched her never-miss-a-day work ethic.

Going into the individual competition at the 2018 Olympics, Tennell had flawlessly landed 31 of her 32 triple jumps in major competitions last season.

Then she fell on the second jump of her combination in the Olympic short program.

And her jumping has been surprisingly inconsistent since.

In Tennell’s seven national and international competitions beginning with the 2018 Olympics, fewer than two-thirds (43 of 69) of her triple jumps or combinations with triple jumps have resulted in a positive Grade of Execution.

Many of the negatives have come from under-rotation calls, as the International Skating Union cracked down on under-rotated jumps this season. Eighteen of her 26 negative GOEs have involved under-rotations.

The calls have frustrated her coaches, Denise Myers and Jeremy Allen, who feel after watching slow-motion video of the jumps in question that the negatives are, well, uncalled for.

“Obviously, you don’t want to get those calls,” Tennell said. “All you can do is take the lesson learned and move on.”

At the 2019 U.S. Championships, in which she finished second to Alysa Liu, Tennell won Thursday’s short program with one of just two clean programs she has done among her 14 this season. (The other was in her previous competition, Golden Spin of Zagreb.)

The Friday free skate, in which she finished fourth, included a botched landing on the second jump of a triple Lutz, triple loop combination and a fall on the under-rotated triple Lutz that was to open a second triple-triple combination.

Bradie Tennell falls on a jump during her performance during her women’s free skate program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

“What we do out there is really hard and we’re only human,” Tennell said.

Myers felt the emphasis Tennell has been putting on the artistic side and artistic complexity of her skating this season may, in the short term, have contributed to lesser jump consistency.

“We want to focus on the growth Bradie has made artistically over the past season,” Myers said Saturday. “If you look at her transitions in and out of each element, I know you must see it [the growth]. It’s a process.”

Tennell, 20, has repeatedly insisted this season that she does not feel extra pressure from her suddenly acquired status as best in the U.S.

“It has never crossed my mind that I’m the woman to beat,” she said earlier this month. “I don’t think of things in terms like that. Every time I go out on the ice, I want to do the best for myself.”

MORE: Alysa Liu is the “future of U.S. ladies’ skating,” according to Tara Lipinski

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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Breanna Stewart to miss entire WNBA season with Achilles injury

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Breanna Stewart, the world’s top female basketball player and one of the most dominant athletes of 2018, is expected to miss the entire upcoming WNBA season after rupturing an Achilles playing in Europe on Sunday, according to the Seattle Storm.

“The situation is still a shock to me,” was posted on Stewart’s social media. “I’m feeling every emotion possible at this point but just know that the bounce back will be real and I’ll be back better than ever.”

Stewart, 24, skyrocketed in this Olympic cycle.

The Storm’s franchise player went from playing the second-fewest minutes on the 2016 Olympic team as its youngest player to leading the U.S. per game in points (16.3) and minutes (27) at the 2018 World Championship tournament.

Stewart earned MVP honors at worlds, matching her WNBA season and Finals honors. She became the first player to earn all three MVPs in one year.

Stewart is still expected to be in play for the 2020 Olympic team, given the Storm expect her to make a full recovery by the start of the following WNBA season next spring.

Tamika Catchings made the 2008 Olympic team after tearing her right Achilles in September 2007.

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Caster Semenya leads Olympians in Time 100; streak hits 16 years

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An Olympian has made the Time 100 Most Influential list every year since its annual inception in 2004. South African runner Caster Semenya, soccer players Alex Morgan and Mo Salah and LeBron James kept the streak going in 2019.

It’s the fourth appearance for James (2005, 2013, 2017), extending his record for an athlete, and the first for Semenya, Morgan and Salah. Semenya made it in the “icons” category, while the other three are “titans.”

Two-time Olympic 400m hurdles champion Edwin Moses penned an essay about the two-time Olympic 800m champion Semenya, who is fighting a legal battle with the IAAF over a potential rule change limiting women’s testosterone levels in her events. If the rule goes into effect, Semenya’s dominance (three years undefeated at 800m) is expected to vanish.

“Caster Semenya has taught us that sex isn’t always binary, and caused us to question the justness of distributing societal benefits according to “male” and “female” classifications,” Moses wrote. “Ultimately, this incredibly difficult issue is a political one for sport to resolve. But however it is addressed, Semenya will have already made a singular historical contribution to our understanding of biological sex.”

Here are Olympians and Paralympians on past Time 100 lists, counting only athletes who competed in the Games before being listed:

2018 — Kevin Durant, Roger Federer, Chloe Kim, Adam Rippon
2017 — Simone Biles, LeBron James, Neymar
2016 — Usain BoltCaitlyn JennerKatie LedeckySania MirzaRonda Rousey
2015 — Abby Wambach
2014 — Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams
2013 — LeBron James, Li Na, Lindsey Vonn
2012 — Novak DjokovicLionel MessiOscar Pistorius
2011 — Lionel Messi
2010 — Yuna KimSerena Williams
2009 — Rafael Nadal
2008 — Andre Agassi, Lance Armstrong, Oscar Pistorius
2007 — Roger FedererChien Ming-Wang
2006 — Joey CheekSteve Nash
2005 — LeBron James
2004 — Lance Armstrong, Paula Radcliffe, Yao Ming
2000 (20th Century) — Muhammad Ali

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