Before Bradie Tennell took the ice as the first person to compete in the ladies short program in Gangneung Ice Arena, she did what she normally does. She popped in her headphones and cranked up her playlist of 80s rock.
“I was listening to Queen, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ ” says Tennell, 20, who revealed during the team event that her nine-hour playlist is all 80s. “It’s kind of weird because people look at me with blonde hair and blue eyes and think it’s weird but I’ve always loved that kind of music because it’s great for getting pumped up and working out.”
Tennell needed some of that energy to lead off the field of 30 skaters, but as she landed her first triple lutz, her timing was off and while she pulled off the triple toeloop combination right after it, she landed too far back and had an uncharacteristic fall.
“My timing was just a little off, my left arm got a little away from me so I wasn’t able to get the snap I needed,” she says. “Things happen, we’re all human and make mistakes but you get up and keep going.”
Skating first is a special challenge. Fans are usually still filing in, and the butterflies haven’t had time to settle yet. Even if you skate well, judges tend to be less generous with the subjective components scores for early skaters, leaving space for the skaters to come. “I’m not very fond of skating first, but it’s what you train for, and I’ve skated first a bunch of times,” she says. “Nobody likes to be first out there, right?”
Tennell’s fall is her first this season. She has skated clean short and long programs since she competed in Skate America and U.S. nationals and debuted at the Olympics with a clean short program in the team event.
The fall cost her valuable points. In the team event, where she landed the combination jump cleanly, she earned 10.30 points; in this event, she only tallied 8.20 points and received a 1.0 deduction for the fall. She will enter the long program with 64.01 points.
Tennell said she doesn’t remember the last time she fell during a competition. “It’s a setback but it’s important not to dwell on things like that. I’m just looking forward to the free skate.” She’ll have another chance for a clean slate on Thursday night.