LAKE PLACID - Ryan Bradley has been considered one of the most entertaining skaters on the competitive circuit in recent years, and has continued that distinction after retirement by performing in various ice shows and by coaching skating.
At the Saturday Night Ice Show on July 14, Bradley skated to Frank Sinatra and Kenny Loggins, entertaining the crowd with both his athleticism and captivating presentation skills. He also landed several backflips, a signature move that is always a crowd-pleaser.
Bradley's crowning achievement came in 2011, when he won the National Championships after many years of striving to be competitive with the best in the world. After earning the gold at the National Championships in Greensboro, N.C., and competing in the World Championships, Bradley retired to begin a new chapter in his skating life. He was in Lake Placid just a few weeks ago, coaching in Audrey Weisiger's "Grassroots to Champions" Super Camp and performing in the related Young Artists Showcase show.
Photo by Christie Sausa
Ryan Bradley gives a thumb’s up backstage at the Olympic Center in his costume for the Saturday Night Ice Show on July 14.
"I kind of wish we had skating camps like that when I was a kid, just a week when you're away, get to meet new people, get to train and have fun," Bradley said.
Bradley also appreciates the other side of the camp, which emphasizes not just skating prowess, but also development as a person.
"I think that Audrey (Weisiger) and Sheila (Thelen) are doing a great thing. They're getting the kids excited. They show them how to have fun and teach them not just how to train hard but how to treat people right," Bradley said. "There is a lot more to figure skating than just skating results. You can learn a lot of lessons and teach a lot of lessons to kids."
In addition to coaching at the G2C camps, Bradley was also available for private lessons on Friday, July 13 at the Olympic Center. He also taught a group class on Saturday, July 14. For Bradley, his less-than-consistent opportunities to coach due to his busy schedule enable him to see the skater's improvement clearly.
"I like coming in for a few days, working with the kids and getting to come back and see their progress," he said. "I feel like you can really see the child improve when you don't watch them everyday. I'm very fortunate that my job allows me to do that,"
Bradley also performed as a "guest skater" in the Young Artists Showcase show, in which the two finalists choreographed a group number with Bradley and ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
"This year it was a trio instead of a singles program and that was a refreshing concept," Bradley said. "It's not just about getting your jumps, it's about matching and creating an emotion rather than just one person out there,"
One of Bradley's newest challenges is skating in ice shows aboard a cruise ship. Having talked to the casting manager for the shows several times in the past, Bradley was ready to make the leap when his girlfriend became a cast member. Bradley notes many perks to skating on a cruise ship.
"I really like the lifestyle, being able to travel without having to pack," he said. "It's also nice to be with the same people every day and make new friends there's something to be said for having a routine."
As one would expect, there can also be challenges to skating in such a unique environment-namely, the smaller size of the ice surface.
"It's a small piece of ice, and I can do all my tricks on it, but if something's off it's harder to get it working again," he said. "Whereas on a normal session you can adjust your speed or timing, it's not quite that simple on a 40-by-60 piece of ice."
Even with skating on the ship, Bradley has been keeping a busy schedule on land with various coaching and skating appearances. When asked about his plans for the next year, he answered simply.
"Same thing: travel, coach, travel, skate and rack up the frequent flyer miles."