Bradley entertained the crowd with programs to “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Imagination” from the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
With his talent and ability to play to a crowd, it is amazing to think that Bradley never chose skating in the beginning. His parents made the decision out of necessity.
“My parents and sister skated, so every time they were on the ice and weren’t watching me, I would get in trouble,” Bradley said. “So they decided to have me skate, to keep an eye on me. I didn’t have much say in it in the beginning.”
Bradley grew up in a skating family. His mother and father both skated as adults and his sister was a competitive figure skater. When they started putting him on skates, it was just for fun at first.
“I was playing tennis with my dad and I wanted to compete in tournaments. I kept seeing my sister coming home with all these trophies and wanted trophies of my own. My mom said, ‘then compete in skating, and you can win trophies.’ So I started skating more than once in a while.”
For many years, Bradley seemed to be the underdog, a wonderful skater who couldn’t quite make it to the next level.
“When I was 19 or 20, I realized that I wasn’t going to be competing at Nationals, Worlds ... then in a few years, I placed second in Nationals and realized, maybe I can do this,” he said.
What couldn’t be denied was his connection with an audience. No matter what jumps he executed, people just wanted to watch him skate.
“My goal has always been to do things in a way no one else does,” Bradley said. “When I was a kid, I liked to be the class clown, the center of attention. I like to make the crowd laugh.”
At the 2009 Skate America, Bradley entertained the crowd with a Mozart long program in which he portrayed the mischievous composer in the style of the movie “Amadeus.” The four-and-a-half minute program was entertaining, as well as technically difficult. Bradley placed second in the long program and third overall. His focus seemed to be on entertaining the crowd, rather than just executing difficult elements.
“Whether I place first or seventh in a competition, I want people to remember me,” he said.
In 2010, Bradley retired after the National Championships, partially due to a foot injury. His fans urged him to return, so after he healed, Bradley returned to competition in 2011 for one more season. This proved to be a memorable season for him, as he won the gold at the National Championships and competed in the world championships.
He retired after the World Championships with a national title and aspirations to stay involved in the skating world. Bradley has been guest coaching in various rinks, including in Lake Placid.
“I enjoy motivating kids, and seeing them improve,” he said. “It’s cool to be a part of their lives.”
Both on and off the ice, Bradley is a character. He is known for his showmanship, and even his competition programs are entertaining. His influences in skating were Brian Boitano "for his big jumps" and Scott Hamilton “for his interaction with a crowd."
A sports fan, Bradley enjoys watching baseball, basketball and football. His favorite athlete is not a skater, but a basketball player.
“Michael Jordan is my favorite athlete; I recognize his greatness, and he worked so hard to achieve that level of success," Bradley said.
He is also a fan of other winter sports, and watched hockey, speed skating, bobsled and snowboarding in the Olympics this year. Other than watching sports, his hobbies are fairly limited.
“I am on the road a lot, so I don’t really have a chance to develop hobbies like team sports, because I’m hardly at home to participate," Bradley said.
Instead, Bradley enjoys reading, and takes his Kindle e reader and Ipad with him when he travels. A unique hobby? “Increasing my frequent flyer miles," he says; and with the amount of traveling he has been doing, perhaps this is the best hobby of all.
Bradley, like many elite athletes, spent time in Lake Placid developing his talent. He attended training camps that were based at the Olympic Training Center several times as a young skater, and in 2009 returned to compete in the Skate America Grand Prix competition.
“I’ve skated in a few shows here, and really love small mountain towns like Lake Placid," he said. “There’s a great atmosphere here; it really makes the trip worth it”.
Ryan Bradley will be returning to perform in the Saturday Night Ice Show August 27. For more information about Bradley, go to www.Ryan-Bradley.com'>www.Ryan-Bradley.com.
Photo by Christie Sausa
Ryan Bradley poses for a picture at the Olympic Center last week.