Bradie Tennell wins skating national title, three years after her first

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She had to wait three years for it, but Bradie Tennell earned her second national title Friday night at the 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Las Vegas.

Tennell tallied 153.21 points in the free skate and a 232.61 total. She is the first woman in 101 years to go three or more years between women’s singles titles. (Tonya Harding won in 1991 and 1994, but was later stripped of her 1994 title.)

She appeared relieved and elated as she finished her strong free skate, landing all seven triple jumps and knowing she had done what she set out to do.

“Winning the title back means everything to me,” Tennell said. “It was one of my driving forces behind my move to Colorado. It’s a driving force behind me waking up every day. They say it’s about the journey, not the destination, but the destination feels pretty great, too.”

Tennell moved from suburban Chicago, leaving her longtime coach, to Colorado Springs last summer.

After winning nationals in 2018, when she made the Olympic team, Tennell had continued to finish first in the short program every year that followed, but ended up with the silver in 2019 and bronze in 2020. She was joined both years on the podium by Alysa Liu, the winner at ages 13 and 14, and Mariah Bell.

The same three women were in podium position after the short on Thursday, but this time Liu would finish fourth and Bell fifth.

Amber Glenn, surprising even herself, and Karen Chen joined Tennell in the top three with totals of 215.33 and 214.98 respectively. Tennell’s margin of victory over Glenn was 17.28 points, the widest women’s margin since 2014, under a different scoring system.

With eyes wide as can be and welling up with tears upon receiving her score, Glenn was stunned by her 144.50 free skate score. It was a new personal best by more than 19 points.

Now 21, Glenn had won the junior title in 2014 and then continued to float just under the radar as a contender, with her senior nationals results ranging from 13th in 2015 to as high as fifth last year.

“Wow, I’m still kind of in shock,” she said as she began to speak to the media.

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Glenn learned earlier in the day that she has a foot infection that has spread to her knee. Despite the injury, she was able to put together a strong performance, saying she was skating for herself. She had hoped this week to become the fifth U.S. woman to land a triple Axel, but fell short attempting it in her short program.

“I kind of just released myself from all of those expectations and pressure, and just let myself skate,” Glenn said.

Chen, the 2017 winner and a 2018 Olympian, reached her highest placement since the Olympic year with a free skate score of 143.99.

Despite being the two-time defending champion, Liu said she entered expecting the “bare minimum” of herself. She grew three inches in the offseason, which meant relearning many of her jumps and keeping her signature triple Axel and quad lutz out of this week’s programs, and suffered a hip injury in October.

“This was a very cool experience, especially because this was my first live competition [of the season]; I was happy to be here,” said Liu, who noted she is looking forward to returning home and train her quads.

Bell entered as a favorite for the title after winning both of this season’s competitions, the virtual ISP Points Challenge and Skate America. In fifth after the short program, she fell to a distant fifth after a fall on her opening triple flip, among other errors. Her free skate earned 127.58 points.

Audrey Shin, the surprise bronze medalist at Skate America in her debut senior season, jumped from 10th after the short to seventh with a redemptive free skate that scored 119.08 for a 176.82 total.

2014 Olympian Gracie Gold finished 13th, sliding back one spot from her short program placement after falling twice in the free skate.

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Saudi Arabia to host 2029 Asian Winter Games

Olympic Council of Asia
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Saudi Arabia will host the Asian Winter Games in 2029 in mountains near the $500 billion futuristic city project Neom.

The Olympic Council of Asia on Tuesday picked the Saudi candidacy that centers on Trojena that is planned to be a year-round ski resort by 2026.

“The deserts & mountains of Saudi Arabia will soon be a playground for Winter sports!” the OCA said in a statement announcing its decision.

Saudi sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal said the kingdom’s winter sports project “challenges perception” in a presentation of the plan to OCA members.

“Trojena is the future of mountain living,” the minister said of a region described as an area of about 60 square kilometers at altitude ranging from 1,500 to 2,600 meters.

The Neom megaproject is being fund by the Saudi sovereign wealth vehicle, the Public Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia also will host the Asian Games in 2034 in Riyadh as part of aggressive moves to build a sports hosting portfolio and help diversify the economy from reliance on oil.

A campaign to host soccer’s 2030 World Cup is expected with an unprecedented three-continent bid including Egypt and Greece.

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Jim Redmond, who helped son Derek finish 1992 Olympic race, dies

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Jim Redmond, who helped his injured son, Derek, finish his 1992 Olympic 400m semifinal, died at age 81 on Sunday, according to the British Olympic Association, citing family members.

At the 1992 Barcelona Games, Derek pulled his right hamstring 15 seconds into his 400m semifinal, falling to the track in anguish.

He brushed off help from officials, got up and began limping around the track. About 120 meters from the finish line, he felt the presence of an uncredentialed man who rushed down the stadium stairs, dodged officials and said, “We started this together, and we’re going to finish this together,” according to Olympedia.org.

“As I turned into the home straight, I could sense this person was about to try and stop me,” Derek said in an NBC Olympics profile interview before the 2012 London Games. “I was just about to get ready to sort of fend them off, and then I heard a familiar voice of my dad. He said, ‘Derek, it’s me. You don’t need to do this.'”

Derek said he shouted to his dad that he wanted to finish the race.

“He was sort of saying things like, ‘You’ve got nothing to prove. You’re a champion. You’ll come back. You’re one of the best guys in the world. You’re a true champion. You’ve got heart. You’re going to get over this. We’ll conquer the world together,'” Derek remembered. “I’m just sort of saying, ‘I can’t believe this is happening.'”

At one point, Derek noticed stadium security, not knowing who Jim was, having removed guns from their holsters.

“It’s the only time I’ve ever heard my dad use bad language,” Derek said. “He just goes, ‘Leave him alone, I’m his father.'”

Derek told himself in that moment, “I’m going to finish this race if it’s the last race I ever run.” It turned out to be the last 400m race of his career, after surgery and 18 months of rehab were not enough to yield a competitive comeback, according to Sports Illustrated.

Derek had missed the 1988 Seoul Games after tearing an Achilles, reportedly while warming up for his opening race. He looked strong in Barcelona, winning his first-round heat and quarterfinal.

“I’d rather be seen to be coming last in the semifinal than not finish in the semifinal,” he said, “because at least I can say I gave it my best.”