Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ryan Bradley at US Nationals?

Bradley during practice at Worlds in 2010
Photo (c) Rueters
Rumors began circulating in late November that Ryan Bradley was going to make his way to the US Figure Skating national championships when he added some suggestive tweets on Twitter. This week several fans on skating message boards reported on his strong skates in a Dallas exhibition in which he hit triple axels and quads in practice and the shows.

Bradley has been the talk of many skating fans as far back as 2000 when his charm and skating ability was noticed as a junior. His boy next door looks didn't hurt his fandom either. Still, his journey into the senior ranks was rocky, filled with inconsistency and "lack of polish." What made Bradley unique was also hurting his chances for climbing the ranks - he was all about showmanship at - apparently - the expense of the technical difficulty.

That all seemed to change during the last quadrennial with Bradley taking the silver medal at the US National Championships in 2007 - right out from under former US Champion Johnny Weir (who barely hung on to third). Still, it was an up and down end to the season when Ryan reached Worlds, and he did not make the team in 2008 when he finished fifth. 2009 he was, again, fourth, and during the Olympic season his short program kept him from the Olympic team even though he had the second best long program (he once again came fourth).

But with his tweeting at the end of October asking "Is it possible to make a comeback if you don't take a season off?" and then a few days later updating his twitter with "Almost done with the short. Contemplating a new long" fans began to get excited at the prospect of Ryan making a bid for US Nationals. He tweeted closer to sectionals that he would be "coaching at my own event." And then nothing on the subject. Bradley went on to participate in several shows (Scott CARES and Improv on Ice) during the fall, while living life (he tweeted from football games, and family events).

The rumors began flying again this weekend when reports from a Christmas show in Dallas, TX had Ryan Bradley looking more fit than he had before hitting his triple Axel and attempting quads. One fan reported on FSU that she had heard "from sources" that Ryan had said he would be competing at nationals.

So, will Bradley be at nationals? With the US men's team failing to make the Grand Prix final, and basically having a lackluster season, it's quite possibly Ryan could see himself on the podium. While he doesn't get the high PCS, he can normally make up for it with his quads - and if his triple Axel is truly back he might win on that alone. With audiences bemoaning the lack of individuality, Bradley's "return" could give viewers what they want.

The 2011 US National Championships are just a month or so away, guess we'll wait and see.

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