After a long absence due to an injury, American Bradie Tennell had a challenging 2022-2023 season. We met her with fellow journalists.
How was your experience at Worlds after such an emotional season?
Bradie: It felt great. My performance on the short program at Worlds was an improvement after Four Continents. The biggest goal coming to Saitama was to enjoy every second on the ice because it has been a physically and emotionally challenging year. It has been a roller coaster. I just wanted to step on the ice and remember why I returned to the sport and what I had worked for all season. The free program was not my best skate, and I was disappointed with it because I had been training a lot better than that. It was unfortunate that it happened in Saitama, out of all places. But I’m proud of the fight that I had. I had missed the second triple Lutz in almost every competition this year, so I was pleased I landed it at Worlds. I was then able to put the triple toe after the triple flip. That was challenging. Of course, there were some silly mistakes, but I tried to keep everything together. It was not the easiest free program, but this kind of skate makes you stronger.
You received standing ovations for both programs.
Bradie: I was so grateful. It was my first world championship in front of an audience since 2019. To receive a standing ovation for both programs felt incredible. The last competition before my injury was the World Team Trophy in Japan. To come back here and have the support of the Japanese audience meant more than I can say.
You mentioned that you particularly connected with your short program (on Michigan 7 by Kirill Richter, arranged by Cédric Tour). Can you explain why?
Bradie: I played piano when I was young and gave it up for skating. I don’t play as much anymore but I have been connected with piano pieces since childhood. I was surprised when Benoit Richaud told me at the beginning of the season in Zagreb that we would change my short program. He then played this piece and explained the concept. The program started with sadness and melancholy and went from darkness to light. It represents my journey about coming back to skating and competing again. At Worlds, during the step sequence, I even forgot that I was competing. I felt I was carried away by the music, and I could let go, feel everything, and perform.
After your injury, did you ever think about giving up skating?
Bradie: Yes. There were many moments of doubt. I have dealt with many injuries in my career, but coming back in 2022 and putting myself through the training required to be at this level was very challenging. A week before Worlds, I asked myself several times if I could and wanted to keep doing this. Before my injury, I would not have allowed myself to feel those things. Now I don’t dismiss these thoughts right away. These are valid thoughts. I examined them and asked myself if I still felt joy when I was skating. Every time the answer was yes. I love this sport so much. I’m not ready to give it up. Even though there are doubts in these more difficult moments, I know I can rely on the people around me, my family and friends. And most importantly, I have to trust myself.
At the beginning of the season, would you have believed that you would compete at Worlds?
Bradie: No, it was a difficult journey, and nothing went according to plan.
How much did you evolve on a personal level?
Bradie: I’m much more comfortable with who I am. When you are growing up, you can feel pressure from your peers or the internet. It is easy to get caught up in this. We sometimes get mean comments on social networks. When you get older, you realize that none of that matters. I’m setting goals and working toward them. I’m doing what I love, and I get to share it. I’m living my childhood dream. In the end, that makes me a winner. If someone is not a fan of my skate, that’s OK. You don’t have to be. I’m a fan of my skating, love what I’m doing, and work hard to be proud of it.
How is life in France?
Bradie: So beautiful! But too hot. I’m serious (laughs). It’s so different from Chicago! I sent sunny pictures to my friends during a blizzard in Chicago. I love it, even though I was homesick because I had not been home in the US for several months. I was excited to go home and see my family, friends, and dog.
Will you be getting new programs for next season?
Bradie: Yes. As much as I loved my programs this year, I will get new programs with Benoit.
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