Just a few months after winning his first U.S. title, Ryan Bradley announced his retirement from competitive skating this week. We caught up with the 27-year-old to talk about his decision, his plans for the future, and his predictions about the future of men's figure skating in the U.S.
So you're retired...
I'm moving into a senior citizens community very soon.
Before we talk about that, can you reflect on Worlds and your experience in Moscow.
I felt really confident on practices and I felt pretty good about how I performed. I obviously didn't get the score that I wanted or the placement, but I went out, did a lot of tricks, and skated relatively cleanly. You can't ask for too much more than that. It was a great event. I was so happy I could be there to see Meryl [Davis] and Charlie [White] win their title. That was probably the highlight of the week for me.
Talk about the reflection process after that and your decision to retire.
For the first time I could take a look back at my career and feel really content and happy with the way things have ended up. In years past, there has always been some form of regret. When I could take a look back and it actually brought a smile to my face - just the years of hardship followed by finally being able to break through at the [Nationals], finally being able to go to Worlds and skate well, it made me feel good about things and I felt real at ease and at peace with ice skating as a whole.
I decided I'm ready to move on, start working a little bit more, still performing obviously, but just in a different capacity. A little bit less of the day to day grind because obviously I'm very injury prone and skating is hard on my body. The idea of being able to walk a little bit better when I'm 40 is a good idea for me right now.
I read that you are keeping your amateur status though...
I feel very sure that I'm going to stay retired, but I don't like boxing myself in. I'm not sure how I'm going to feel in two-and-a-half years right before the Olympics. I don't want to put myself in a situation where all the sudden I get really hot and start skating really well and feel like I want to make one last push. You just never know what can happen. I didn't want to close any doors, but at the moment I have no intention whatsoever of competing again. It would take some real unique circumstances to get me back in front of the judges.
What is your schedule like this summer?
Things are really busy. I'm going to see [home in] Colorado Springs five days between now and September 1st. During those five days it's actually a business trip where I'm coming home to work. I love teaching. I love working with the kids. I love performing at shows. It's exciting to start this chapter of my life without having to make a big shift. Usually I do this for a few months in the summer and then I have to shift right back into competitive thinking.
Is there one message you try to teach at your seminars?
Well obviously jumps are my biggest thing, but I like to teach kids to have fun and remember why they're skating. The little guys - it's easy. They love to skate. They're out there because they want to be, but when you get teens, a lot of them skate because they skate. I try to remind these kids why they started to begin with - because there's something about the athletic part, or the artistic part that keeps you intrigued. It's something you do for pleasure. To make sure they don't lose that core reason and they are enjoying what they are doing.
You seem like the type to always oblige when demonstration requests are made...
Absolutely. I'm a show off at heart.