Bradie Tennell isn't sure how her figure skating career began: she was two years old when she first took to the ice.
But while details of the beginnings of Bradie's career are murky, the direction of the Carpentersville girl's future is clear. Bradie won the 2010 Upper Great Lakes Regional Figure Skating Championships last October in Hoffman Estates, securing a place in U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships in Strongsville, Ohio.
At junior nationals, Bradie finished 10th in the juvenile girls division.
"My goal short term is to perfect my double-axel," Bradie said. "I also want to go back to the junior nationals."
There's also the major competition that's going on now in Vancouver, the Winter Olympic Games, but Bradie's mother Jean Tennell, says the Winter Olympics are four - maybe even eight years away - because of the age restrictions. Bradie will turn 16 just weeks before the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
"I am not sure when the cutoff date is for the Winter Olympics, but I am not sure that it is two weeks before they start," Jean Tennell said with a chuckle.
Bradie, who just celebrated her 12th birthday, practices five hours a day, six days a week at the Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove where she works with Denise Myers as part of the Wagon Wheels Figure Skating Club. Between practice sessions, Bradie and her two brothers, Austin, 10, and Shane 8, are home-schooled.
"I like presenting myself and having fun on the ice," Bradie said. "I like jumping and bringing the judges into my creativity on the ice. I just skate and it feels like the best moment of my life."
Her favorites move is the Biehlman Spin - where the skater touches their head to their rear end. Ballet improves Bradie's posture and also strengthens the 12-year-old's slight frame.
"It teaches you to keep your body still," she said.
In addition to daily workouts, Bradie meets once a month to work with a choreographer, who helps develop routines.
Each routine in the two-and-a-half minute program must feature five to seven jumps and three spins, including combinations of jumps and spins.
"It's all maintenance," Bradie said. "I practice until it is good enough to take to competition."
Bradie will work to perfect her routines and watch fellow figure skaters in Vancouver, aspiring to one day follow in their footsteps. Among Bradie's favorite figure skaters are the retired Kristi Yamaguchi and current Olympian Rachael Flatt.
"In eight years when she is good and strong," Jean Tennell said.