What Happens at the Ice Show, Stays at the Ice Show… Unless Ryan Bradley Shows Up!

18 Apr


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The ice show ended last night and after long evenings of rehearsals and the general hectic schedule I am exhausted and happy to resume normal life. That’s not to say I didn’t have tons of fun, lots of lovely ice time and get to know alot of happy club figure skaters.

It was a great bonding experience, spending so much time with people who share your passion for a sport that reaches across all ages. Skaters at all levels (kids, collegiate, coaches, adults) seemed to bond together throughout the 2 days of the show for their love of skating.

It’s also the one time of year where all the skaters in the club gather at one time and you can meet new skaters that joined. This weekend though was special because there was only one person that EVERYONE wanted to get to know.

Every year we have a guest skater and we usually find out who it is about 2 months before the show. The guest skater skates two numbers (each night) and also does an hour seminar the afternoon before the last show. This year’s skater created quite a buzz. When we were told that Ryan Bradley was coming it produced so many wide eyed looks, sighs and overall high pitched squeals of excitement that I am surprised he made it through the front door of the ice rink un-molested. (sigh… I did squeal a little!)

Later, I heard a collegiate skater say she saw a little girl run up to him and just hug him on the legs. She said, “That little girl is so lucky, you can do anything when you are that young and it’s ok, no one says anything! I would so love to run up to Ryan and hug him.” Her friend then remarked, “Yeah, but then you would never let him go!” We all laughed but I think most of the women in the rink felt the same way every time they saw him but most of us were to afraid to do much other than say hello let alone run up and hug him! We were all a little star struck by his presence.

When he arrived at the rink he practiced for about 25 minutes on ice. He mostly jumped, triples and then he did a few backflips. He explained later when we asked about his warmup’s that maybe he is not the best example for on ice warmup’s since he goes right into jumps. He did say he has an extensive off ice warmup and that he typically does moves later on in the session. I found out later that he is a very aggressive skater (admittedly so) and will try things on his own until he succeeds at it.

After his practice session he was at the front of the rink and I had a chance to personally meet him. I thought he was one of the most approachable skaters I’ve ever met. He seemed very friendly, maybe just a little nervous and very down to earth. I asked him if he still got nervous for exhibitions and he said he did. I thought that was really cute. Ok, so I thought everything he did or said was cute, so I’m biased! Keep that in mind as you read this! I was totally one of his avid female skater stalkers at the rink and I am not ashamed to admit it, I really couldn’t hide it anyway!

Most of the time he was wearing either jeans or sweatpants and some type of interesting t-shirt. A friend of mine gave him an Ice show t-shirt from our club to remember us by. She said how she noticed he wore a different and interesting t-shirt every time he practiced at competitions so she wanted to give him another to wear. He said, yes he does like to wear t-shirts and in the past he has actually gotten in trouble from the judges for doing so in the practices! That’s crazy! I didn’t realize figure skating was still that rigid!

At any rate, I did attend the hour skating seminar yesterday and he was very talkative and relaxed, inserting his actual experiences on ice with good skating tips. We made up a group of 16 and we ran through two warm-up sequences, back and forward perimeter power crossover stroking. We then ran through most of the jumps in groups while he watched and made general instructional comments. I found it very nerve wracking to have 12 others watching me plus Ryan Bradley while I jumped. However, he was very reassuring about that too and tried to relax everyone by telling them how hard it is to just jump after standing around for some time. Such a nice guy!

So from that on-ice seminar session here are some Ryan Bradley skating tips:
(please note that this is my interpretation of what he said and while I tried to listen carefully if something seems wrong its probably my interpretation and not Ryan’s instruction)

1. Landings are very important and almost more important than the jump itself: Jumps happen very quickly (of course he is talking about triples, but I supposed this applies to any level) and you want the last thing the judges to see is a good, steady, well presented landing. No matter what the jump looked like make the landing look like it was the best jump you did. You can imagine how much we all paid particular attention to holding our landing position no matter how funky our jumps were after he said that!

2. Shoulders should be level when you jump. We were talking about the salchow when he said this. I think because our three turns get swingy we were dropping shoulders right and left. He had us do basic inside three turns and noted that we should do the sal’s more like we do our regular three turns rather than let our free leg get away from us because we think we need to swing it up to get into the jump. Also, no rushing of the three turn should happen. (Oh so guilty!) He also said he could live without doing salchows and that it is his least favorite jump, but he could do triple toes everyday and be perfectly happy. Sniff… sal’s are one of my favorite jumps so I was a little disappointed by that.

3. Basic position for most jumps is to have your legs and hips squarely under you. While he is not advocating that you are going to have two feet straight under you for the jumps, in essence you should feel that your legs and feet are in-line with your hips. You should not feel that you are off in any way before a jump. I know that seems pretty basic to say but if you think about it, how many times do we force ourselves to complete a jump even if we feel that our body alignment is so off kilter that we feel unsteady before taking off? I feel that way in every lutz and flip take off. He said kids don’t think about the jumps as much as adults. Adults tend to think of too many things, we should narrow it down to one or two things and just be aggressive with the jump.

4. We talked about Lutz’s and Flips and he said that years ago he used to do an outside edge flip. This is something that people have not been talking about as much as they do the Flutz (an inside edge lutz). He had to relearn the correct edge take off for the flip. So we talked about the inside edge take off vs the outside edge take off the lutz. I have a horrendous lutz, and I lose all my momentum when I pick in. He commented that we should feel like we are winding up and should not release our arms (my interpretation here is iffy) until we are ready to pick because if you release your arms before this all that energy will dissipate. (I do this, I think this was after my little lutz attempt which is actually like a pick/loop)

5. When it comes to any skating move, jump etc. we should always be pushing ourselves to do better. We should try and get just a little faster or stronger each time and really think about that when we are skating so that we can reach a different level. He really stressed this on the warmup as well. You should use all of your push rather than going halfway with the stroke or push.

He said a few other wise words about practicing and competing and how judges rank skaters on practice ice before the competition and then adjust that ranking according to how they skate in competition. He talked about an aggressive strength training routine for off-ice workouts and he commented on all of his injuries. It sounded extremely painful especially the knee injuries. I imagine most Senior level skaters must be in a lot of pain especially as they get older. I know I have pain and I don’t even do half as much as he does! Who would’ve guessed that adult skaters and senior level skaters have something in common! We all have a nice supply of ibuprofen with us for those aches and pains!

In the ice show his exhibition was to the song “Kung fu Fighting” (an immediate hit with the crowd) and he did an abbreviated version of his long program for the second act. I would be lying if I said I didn’t love those brown pants he wears, oh, and of course the skating in that program was amazing too 😉

His one foot flips are crazy! I breathed a sigh of relief every time he landed one – although the first night he landed one a little too close to the boards and slammed into it. He played it off so well though that most people thought it was part of his program! I heard that he taught himself how to do back flips on the ice. That’s an amazing testament to how aggressive he is on the ice! Although no quads I did see a few triple toes and triple axels.

All in all, Ryan was candid, genuine and just a really great role model on and off the ice for the skaters. We really enjoyed having him at the rink. He was gracious enough to let us take group photos with him and sign many autographs for all of us.

Sigh…I believe he officially replaced my Brian Joubert obsession from a few years ago. Till next year….

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