SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – Bradie Tennell, Mirai Nagasu and Karen Chen, the top three finishers at the national championships, were selected Saturday to the U.S. team for the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Three-time U.S. champ Ashley Wagner, who complained vigorously about the marks after the free skate, was not included. Four years ago, Wagner also finished fourth but was placed on the team ahead of Nagasu. Wagner wound up with a bronze medal in the team event in Sochi, Russia.
“I really took time to remodel myself, because I didn’t want to feel that regret,” Nagasu said during the announcement on NBC’s “Today” show. “This has been about my journey and my goal to get here. To accomplish it last night has been a dream come true.”
The 19-year-old Tennell and Chen, 18, the 2017 U.S. winner, made their first Olympics. Nagasu, now 24, was fourth at the 2010 Games.
U.S. Figure Skating uses a committee to decide the squad, and it went with the results of Friday night. Past performances and a variety of other data are also factors.
The remainder of the team — three men, three ice dance couples and one pair — is scheduled to be announced Sunday.
Nagasu, U.S. champ 10 years ago and a 2010 Olympian, capped a sensationally sweet comeback with a flowing performance to finish second, assuring a spot in next month’s Olympics — a berth she was denied in 2014 by the selection committee. That position for Sochi was given to Wagner, who had compiled a better overall record.
After overpowering the entry and two-footing the triple axel that no other American woman tries, Nagasu hit six triple jumps, including a loop in the final seconds of a stirring program.
Rising star Tennell’s near-perfect free skate secured her first national crown. Tennell, a long shot entering the season, was spotless in the short program two days ago, then as the final skater in the long program she didn’t miss a trick under tremendous pressure. Her top competitors, Nagasu and Chen, already had put down superb routines.
“I just had to keep calm and focus on what I knew I could do,” Tennell said. “There’s the initial butterflies, but I kind of start to lose myself and keep going.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in quite yet. I’m still kind of shocked. It’s indescribable to me.”