Bradie Tennell arrives again at the summit of U.S. women’s skating


Bradie Tennell knows the old cliché athletes use to explain what keeps them going through thick and thin, when they try not to have their eyes always on a prize.

“They say it’s about the journey, not the destination,” Tennell said. “But the destination feels pretty good, too.”

It was a place she had been before and one Tennell turned her life inside out last summer to reach again: the top step of the women’s podium at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Tennell got there Friday night as convincingly as she had the first time, in 2018, sweeping the short program and free skate, earning 232.61 points and winning by a whopping 17.28 over the surprise (and surprised) runner-up, Amber Glenn, whose best previous finish at nationals was fifth last year.

The gap between Glenn and fourth finisher Alysa Liu was just 1.94 points.

Bronze medalist Karen Chen, the 2017 U.S. champion, returned to the top three for the first time since 2018. Chen was 1.59 ahead of Liu, 15, whose two-year reign as champion ended in a season when a growth spurt and an injury left her struggling with the jumps that had won her the titles.

With a fall on her opening jump – the 15th and last fall among the 17 competitors in a year when everyone’s training has been compromised by the pandemic – Mariah Bell dropped into fifth after having been seen as the title favorite before this event in a COVID-19 safety “bubble” at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.

Tennell, 22, is now listed as the first woman in more than 100 years to win a second U.S. title three years after the first. It previously happened after the event was not held for four of five seasons during World War I.

“Winning my title back means everything to me,” Tennell said. “It was one of the driving forces behind my move to Colorado (from Illinois) this year, the driving force behind me waking up to go to train every day.”


Tennell did it with a commanding free skate that had just one flaw, a slightly under rotated second jump of her opening triple-triple combination. She avoided the late jumping mistake that had contributed to her losing the past two years after having won the short program.

Her new coach, Tom Zakrajsek, had taught her a “key phrase” for going into her last jump that Tennell said “made a big difference” but would not reveal. Ironically, Zakrajsek was back in Colorado Springs recovering from a mild case of COVID, having tested positive Jan. 3.

Glenn, the 2014 U.S. junior champion who had walked away from the sport for six months in 2015 because of what she said were mental health issues, moved from fifth after the short program by delivering the only flawless free skate of the night.

“Of course I had thought about [making the podium at nationals], but it was just a dream, not something thought would happen,” she said.

When her score (144.50) came up, Glenn’s jaw dropped behind her mask, and she mouthed a tame expletive to express her surprise. It was 31 points higher than Glenn had scored in any of four previous free skates at nationals.

“I was in utter shock,” Glenn said. “It didn’t feel real. I was flipped out.”

Glenn skated that well despite learning after the short program that an infection in her right foot had spread to her right knee by the free skate, causing swelling in her shin and calf. She was about to get antibiotics to treat what she had thought was pain caused by nervousness.

“Knowing I had to push through that, I was able to skate with no pressure,” she said.

Glenn, 21, had returned to skating from her hiatus when she discovered a “normal life…was just not enough for me. I didn’t want to start something new. I wanted to go back to what I had committed nine years of my life to at that point. I felt there was something missing in my life without skating.

“I came back with the goal of trying to enjoy it like I did when I was younger. When that happened, I started really improving on the ice.

Liu, who had to scrap her signature triple Axel when her physical changes made it inconsistent, had skated a strong second-place short program but could not keep her jumps together in the free skate. She managed to land cleanly just three of a planned seven triple jumps.

“I didn’t expect too much of myself,” she said. “I expected bare minimum the way things were going. Obviously I really wanted to skate well. The short I am very pleased with. My long didn’t go as planned.”

In 2019, at 13 years old and 4-foot-9, Liu had become the apparent next big thing in U.S. skating. She was then not only the youngest women’s champion in history but the first to land a triple Axel in the short program and two in the long at the U.S. Championships. Those big points jumps made up for what she lacked in artistry.

“It was a big challenge this season, especially with corona[virus] and me growing and injuries, but it was a really good learning experience,” Liu said. “I’m glad it happened this season and not another.

Liu will not be age eligible for senior international competition until next season, which happens to be an Olympic season.

Two women will be named Saturday for the 2021 U.S. world championship team (Tennell is assured of one spot).

The world championships are scheduled to take place the March 22-28 in Stockholm, but it would not be surprising if they have to be cancelled, as nearly every other international figure skating event this season has been. The 2020 World Championships in Montreal were cancelled when the pandemic began to hit full force last March.

“I’m going to continue training as if worlds is happening,” Tennell said. “But of course we have to make sure it can be held safely, because the number one priority is obviously the health and safety of everyone involved.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Olympic Winter Games, is a special contributor to

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2023 French Open women’s singles draw, scores

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At the French Open, Iga Swiatek of Poland eyes a third title at Roland Garros and a fourth Grand Slam singles crown overall.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Swiatek, the No. 1 seed from Poland, can join Serena Williams and Justine Henin as the lone women to win three or more French Opens since 2000.

Turning 22 during the tournament, she can become the youngest woman to win three French Opens since Monica Seles in 1992 and the youngest woman to win four Slams overall since Williams in 2002.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Men’s Draw

But Swiatek is not as dominant as in 2022, when she went 16-0 in the spring clay season during an overall 37-match win streak.

She retired from her most recent match with a right thigh injury last week and said it wasn’t serious. Before that, she lost the final of another clay-court tournament to Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, and Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the No. 4 seed and Wimbledon champion, are the top challengers in Paris.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula and No. 6 Coco Gauff, runner-up to Swiatek last year, are the best hopes to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. The 11-major drought is the longest for U.S. women since Seles won the 1996 Australian Open.

MORE: All you need to know for 2023 French Open

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2023 French Open Women’s Singles Draw

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2023 French Open men’s singles draw, scores

French Open Men's Draw
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The French Open men’s singles draw is missing injured 14-time champion Rafael Nadal for the first time since 2004, leaving the Coupe des Mousquetaires ripe for the taking.

The tournament airs live on NBC Sports, Peacock and Tennis Channel through championship points in Paris.

Novak Djokovic is not only bidding for a third crown at Roland Garros, but also to lift a 23rd Grand Slam singles trophy to break his tie with Nadal for the most in men’s history.

FRENCH OPEN: Broadcast Schedule | Women’s Draw

But the No. 1 seed is Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who won last year’s U.S. Open to become, at 19, the youngest man to win a major since Nadal’s first French Open title in 2005.

Now Alcaraz looks to become the second-youngest man to win at Roland Garros since 1989, after Nadal of course.

Alcaraz missed the Australian Open in January due to a right leg injury, but since went 30-3 with four titles. Notably, he has not faced Djokovic this year. They could meet in the semifinals.

Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the French Open first round in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, is improved on clay. He won the Italian Open, the last top-level clay event before the French Open, and is the No. 2 seed ahead of Djokovic.

No. 9 Taylor Fritz, No. 12 Frances Tiafoe and No. 16 Tommy Paul are the highest-seeded Americans, all looking to become the first U.S. man to make the French Open quarterfinals since Andre Agassi in 2003. Since then, five different American men combined to make the fourth round on eight occasions.

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2023 French Open Men’s Singles Draw

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