Everything You Need to Know About Olympic Figure Skater Bradie Tennell
Since the start of her career, 20-year-old Bradie Tennell has flown under the radar in the figure skating scene. But with a trail of high-scoring programs that most never predicted, Tennell has snagged a spot on the Winter Olympics figure skating team.
Officials with the U.S. Figure Skating international committee announced last month that Tennell has been placed on the 2018 Olympic team to compete in Pyeongchang, South Korea, alongside female American skaters Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen.
Although she is an Olympics newbie, Tennell’s placement was no surprise after she dominated the women’s short program 2018 U.S. figure skating national championships, coming in first place with 73.79 points.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Illinois native:
She’s Been Winning Big for Months
In November, Tennell won a bronze medal in her grand prix debut at the 2017 Bridgestone Skate America competition, becoming the first U.S. woman since Caroline Zhang 2007 to accomplish such a feat. She was the only U.S. woman to medal at the event.
Tennell says she was just as “surprised” by her win as everyone else.
“It was kind of crazy. It was a lot of fun,” she tells PEOPLE of the experience. “It was definitely unexpected, but I just had a good time.”
She’s Already Getting Kudos from the Greats
After Tennell’s display, 1998 Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski predicted that she would make the Olympic team.
“When I watched her skate in comparison to the rest of [the] group she had not only a very consistent technical arsenal and she never misses, that mentally she has blinders on, and that’s very difficult as a competitor to do,” Lipinski said of Tennell, according to the Los Angeles Times.
She Has No Clue How She Got Into Figure Skating
Tennell tells PEOPLE that she’s loved to skate since she was about 2 years old growing up in Carpentersville, Illinois, but has no idea what sparked the interest.
“I don’t even know how I figured out what skating was,” she says. “My parents were in between houses at the time and I just kept begging my mom to go ice skating. She looked it up in the yellow pages, for the closest rink. And she took me to go skating.”
She Likes to Live for Now
Although she’s been skating for most of her life, Tennell says she doesn’t focus much on making career plans for the future.
“I like to live in the moment and take things one thing at a time,” she tells PEOPLE.
The Winter Olympics will take place from Feb. 9 through Feb. 25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and coverage will air in the U.S. on NBC.