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U.S. Ladies Poised to Make Their Mark at the Olympics

by Liz Leamy

The talented three-member U.S. ladies Olympic contingent, comprised of Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen, are determined to make a lasting mark in PyeongChang.

This powerful trio who are known for their superior technical skills are hungry to rack up big points and do the U.S. proud in the Olympic ladies competition, which will be held Tuesday, February 20th and Thursday, February 22nd at the Gangneung Ice Arena.

Tennell, the powerful Carpentersville, Illinois native who clinched gold at the 2018 U.S. Championships last month, Nagasu, the dynamic ‘distance runner’ from Arcadia, California who is a seven-time U.S. medalist and second-time Olympian and Karen Chen, the 2017 U.S. titlist and 2018 U.S. bronze medalist from Fremont, California, all maintain the ability to pack a big punch at this decorated worldwide event, that’s for sure.

Somehow, it seems likely that these each of these athletes will indeed perform at optimal level based upon the fact that they have reached this point due to their ability to step up to the ‘plate’ at some of the most critical times.

Meanwhile, they all said achieving this life-changing juncture in their competitive careers is something they see as an opportunity as much as a privilege and honor.

“I feel really confident going into the Olympics and can’t wait to enjoy every single second of the [Games], said Nagasu, 24, who trains in Colorado Springs with Tom Zakrajsek and placed fourth at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. “I think the hardest part about the Olympics is making the team.”

Karen Chen, 18, who trains in Riverside, California with Tammy Gambill, also said she is very excited to skate in PyeongChang.

“I think I’m feeling the best [I’ve felt] all season and training has been going well,” said Chen. “[The Olympics] is something I’ve dreamed of ever since I was little and I always tell myself anything is possible.”

Tennell, 20, shared similar sentiments.

“Training’s been going really well and to be honest, I can’t wait to get there,” said Tennell, in a pre-Olympics teleconference with reporters two weeks ago. “I practice the way I want to compete and I’m going into [the Olympics] with confidence.”

For each one of these skaters, training represents the primary foundation of their skating and seems to be an endeavor that is as much a lifestyle as it is a pursuit of their heart.

Tennell, for instance, rises at 4am every morning to get ready to go to the rink, a place where she spends the majority of her day training both on and off ice and, also on some afternoons, works with a handful of private students as their coach.

 “I’m just used to [my routine] now,” said Tennell. “I’ve been doing it since high school.”

Chen, meanwhile, gets up early every morning, has breakfast and then reads an inspirational quote for the day before heading to the rink where she trains until the early evening hours.

“Sometimes I feel like thinking about that ultimate goal I want really helps to push me,” said Chen.

Nagasu also maintains an intensive training regiment and spends most of her time at the Broadmoor World Arena, where she has a busy work regiment that she seems to thrive upon.

“I truly love skating,” said Nagasu. “It’s always about improving and getting better.”

At the same time, these hard-working athletes make certain to enjoy their downtime away from the rink as well.

Tennell usually winds down at home after a day at the rink by listening to music or watching her favorite television shows such as ‘Supernatural’, ‘NCIS’ or ‘Flash.’

Chen, meanwhile, enjoys watching television, reading and listening to music when she is off the ice. She likes to occasionally meet friends like Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1988 Olympic champion, for coffee. (Yamaguchi, who is also from Fremont, has become a mentor to Chen these past few years and has helped her with her outlook in regard to competing on a global stage.)

Nagasu, finally, said she likes to watch comedy shows on television as a way to unwind and relieve stress.
“You have to enjoy life a little bit and comedy is my everything, laughing helps with all kinds of stress,” said Nagasu, whose favorite television shows include ‘Brooklyn 99’ and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and whose go-to films include ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’

“I also like [films and shows] where people fight for what they believe in.”

Somehow, Tennell, Nagasu and Chen all seem to be going into this competition with this very concept in mind, which certainly ought to serve them quite well this next week.