Saratoga Springs native Bridie Farrell once had the US Olympic Team in her sights. Now, it’s Congress. Farrell, a one-time Saratoga speedskating phenom who became a sexual abuse advocate, following alleged abuse at the hands of a mentor, has kicked off her campaign for New York State’s 21st Congressional district seat in 2022.
Farrell will be running as a Democrat.
“I am running for Congress because I want to give back to the very communities that gave me so much while growing up, training, competing and chasing my Olympic dreams in the 21st district,” Farrell said in a statement. “From the ice in Lake Placid and the trails in the High Peaks, to my crowded family kitchen table in Saratoga, my values and drive to compete and succeed were born in the North Country. I was taught that everyone’s opinion can be voiced and should be heard. When you do a job, you do it right. We need someone in Washington with North Country values instead of someone who is focused on her own gain at the expense of our communities.” Farrell added: “Nearly 40 years after growing up here, I still have the same values that I learned as a little girl. I competed for our country all around the world, wearing the red, white, and blue and it was my honor and privilege to do so. Through all that, I never lost touch with what I believe in, where I’m from, and who I am. I will bring these values and that drive to the 21st district, and I will never stop competing for us.”
At the age of 13, Farrell was a nationally ranked speedskater; ended up holding three US speedskating records; and competed in the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2014 Olympic Trials. After retiring in 2006 and attempting a comeback, Farrell began making national news in 2014, when she publicly accused her former speedskating mentor, Andrew Gabel, a silver medal–winning Olympian and speedskating Hall of Famer, of sexual abuse. “I didn’t think it would be a story,” she told Saratoga Living in 2019. Soon it was being covered by ESPN, USA Today and later, Marie Claire, in an eye-opening feature.
Since then, Farrell has been a vocal advocate for child sexual abuse victims, first co-founding the nonprofit NY Loves Kids, which lobbied to get New York State to pass the Child Victims Act (CVA), a bill that was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2019. That same year, Farrell, who served as the organization’s president and CEO, announced, in the pages of Saratoga Living, that she would be taking her organization national, launching America Loves Kids, which has fought for child sexual abuse victims’ rights throughout the country, in states such as Arizona and New Jersey, successfully helping to get laws similar to the one in New York passed by other states’ legislatures.
In July 2020, Farrell filed a civil suit against her alleged abuser.
Polls won’t open for the Congressional midterm elections until November 2022, but it should prove an uphill battle for Farrell, given that the 21st district’s current representative, Elise Stefanik, recently ascended to the No. 3 most powerful position in the Republican Party. This will also mark Farrell’s first official foray into politics.
Born and raised in Saratoga, Farrell graduated from Saratoga Springs High School and BOCES. She attended Adirondack Community College and ultimately graduated from Cornell University. She currently resides in North River, NY.