Bradie Tennell is just 20, but her statuesque presence, and the poise she summons, anytime the skater comes to the ice echoes of regal, mature presence. Her fair skin and braids bring to mind the image of Catherine the Great, but Illinois-born Bradie Tennell has been majestic this week for the USA, part of the team holding everyone's high expectations. The skaters have even higher expectations of themselves. For teammates like Nathan Chen, it's a challenge of climbing up from a disappointing start. Mirai Nagasu made Olympic history, meanwhile, becoming the first American female skater to nail the triple axel in an Olympic arena.

Nagasu exhibited the emotion of a 230-pound quarterback who just pounded the football for a Super Bowl touchdown, and Bradie Tennell knows about toughness, as well. She anchored her team this week in taking the bronze medal, and that celebration was made sweeter by the comeback the young woman has made — in double fashion.

Does Bradie Tennell have any pre-event secrets for staying cool and collected and keeping perfect form in her routine? Fans might be surprised to know that her taste in music is older than she is, and color-coding is a key component, too.

Back from broken backs

Bradie Tennell has been taking titles at the US championships since she was ranked novice in 2012-2013. Raised by a single mother, she used to rumble with her two hockey-playing siblings, Shane and Austin.

She got accustomed to pulling herself up by her skate straps.

Just after becoming US champion in 2015, Bradie Tennell suffered trauma that most athletes don't have in entire careers. “I broke my back, not once, but twice,” she notes in her February 11 NBC Olympics interview. She spent the summer of 2015 and 2016 in a back brace.

It was the longest span that Bradie Tennell had ever spent off the ice, but she definitely wasn't Idle. Regimens of extensive PT (physical therapy) and “lots of strength training” filled the hours. Bradie gives thanks to her mom, Denise, and her family for “keeping things positive” when the “wind out of her sails” feeling started to take hold.

The mother knows the tenacity of her daughter, who begged to skate, and started her sport in earnest at age 2.

Raging 80s

Like most of the athletes in events at PyeongChang, the deepest impression of the 2018 Winter Olympics city is “really cold,” but she takes it in stride, without surprise. The frigid climate is a good reason for one of Bradie Tennell’s championship preparation rituals. She wears blue socks on days of her short routines, and pink socks on long program days.

Bradie paces a lot and people have noticed, but that habit just helps to burn off some pre-contest jitters. What really helps the skater rev-up before meaningful performances is her playlist of 80s rock, with artists from “AC/DC, Poison, Styx etc.” She literally can go on and on within this musical era.

When she was prodded about possibly including some of the songs that fuel her spirit in a future skating routine, she simply replied, “Never say never.”

Bradie Tennell was radiant in red for her acclaimed performance this week, and sister skater, Ashley Wagner, called her “the queen we don't deserve” in Twitter words of praise. The skater was equally supportive of Team USA skaters, like Adam Rippon, and the Shibutani siblings, standing and cheering with the flag. She thinks about “anything but skating” just before her turn to skate, but as any fan knows, 80s rock reverberates right to the heart, even after the volume knob has left “11.”