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Bradie Tennell Steals the Show

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The U.S. Figure Skating Championships kicked off with the ladies short program and with it came quite a bit of drama. The ladies field has been wide open and there has not been a real favorite going into the event. Now the tides are turning in U.S. figure skating as a new star has begun to emerge to fill the void.

Bradie Tennell won the bronze medal at Skate America and quickly became a part of the Olympic Team conversation. After delivering the cleanest short program of the night at the U.S. Championships, Bradie has found herself in first place. She made quite a splash breaking the short program record with a score of 73.79. Though Tennell gave the cleanest performance of the night, her PCS was higher than expected. It was interesting to see the judges be so generous with her.

Only 0.70 points from the lead is Mirai Nagasu. Nagasu is the only lady at the U.S. Championships attempting a triple axel in both her short program and free skate. Mirai over-rotated the triple axel in the short program and stepped out of the landing. She regrouped nicely and gave a solid performance. Nagasu has been so focused on landing her jumps that there have been complaints that she is not emoting and relating to the music like we have seen her do in the past. That was not the case in this performance. Once the jumps were completed, she found herself in the music and gave a fabulous performance. Being in second place heading into the free skate is an ideal situation for Mirai.

Fighting to Stay in the Mix

Karen Chen proved her critics wrong as she gave a strong performance, despite skating last. Chen did not have the brilliance that she shined with at the U.S. Championships last year, but she did manage to put herself in third place after the short program. Perhaps she can reclaim that magic in the free skate.

Holding onto fourth place is Angela Wang. She was only the second skater to take the ice in the long group of ladies, but she was fantastic. Hopefully she can carry that momentum into the free skate.

So where’s Ashley Wagner in all of this? Ashley is currently in fifth place. Wagner is 7.85 away from the lead. That’s quite a stretch even for Ashley. Wagner has just been off this season and the judges are not willing to help her. They could have propped up her PCS, but they chose not to.

It’s hard to know if the judges are trying to send her a message and if they are, what exactly are they trying to tell her? Some speculate that they are trying to tell her to change her short program. She made a comment following her performance in the mix zone about changing her short program for the Olympics. Others believe that the judges are telling her that she has not spent enough time training this season.

Could she be in danger of not making the Olympic Team? Will she have to go through another sleepless night as she did in 2014 and hope and pray she is named to the team? Coming into this, it seemed like Ashley was a lock for the Olympic Team, but now there are some serious doubts. She will need to give a killer free skate performance if she wants to stay in the mix.

The ladies free skate will take place on Friday, January 5.

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