Meteoric rise has Tennell dreaming about Olympics

Meteoric rise has Tennell dreaming about Olympics

A box of facial tissues sat on the dasher boards. That's not unusual at a figure skating practice, where the cold air in the rink and the effects of exertion combine to make noses run.

The difference was how often Bradie Tennell had to run to the Kleenex during this pre-Christmas practice at her home rink in Chicago's north suburbs. Tennell had a cold but no fever, which meant she and her coach of 10 years, Denise Myers, saw no reason to do anything more than cut back on the length of the training session and practice some of the elements in the programs instead of doing more run-throughs.

"We try to practice as if it's a competition, under all kinds of circumstances: delays in the schedule, first or last in the skating order, not feeling perfectly," Myers said. "You never know if you will have a cold at a big competition."

It was late morning. The rink lights glinted off sparkles underneath the eyelets of Tennell's skates as she started to warm up jumps. It wasn't long before she started reeling them off. Triple loop. Double axel. Triple lutz-double toe-double loop combination. Another double axel. Triple salchow. Double axel-triple toe. Triple lutz-triple toe.

"It was a little off," Tennell told Myers after the triple-triple. "I don't like messing up."

The error was almost imperceptible. The landings on every jump were rock solid.

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