About a month ago I had the honor of emceeing the Winter Ice Gala in Wenatchee benefitting the Arena Youth Enrichment Fund and met professional figure skater and a US National Champion, Ryan Bradley. On top of being an impeccable skater and performer, I was blown away by his wisdom, maturity and passion for his sport.
Watching him and the other skaters perform inspired me so much by the end of the show I was ready to sign up for lessons. Oh and by the way he can do a backflip on ice. Check out this video.
After getting to know Ryan, I was energized and inspired by his story and how much hard work and determination he invests in his dreams. If you’ve ever wanted a peek into a professional figure skater’s life, here you go!
Tell us a little bit about yourself! How did you get into figure skating?
Well, I like to think I’m a pretty normal guy. I like sports, reading, and staying active. I got into skating when I was 2 years old because my mother was an avid skating fan. She wanted to learn how to skate as an adult, so she put my sister and me on the ice as well. It made it easier for her to practice and keep an eye on us.
Take us through a day in the life of Ryan. We want all the details!
You are one of few that can pull off a back flip on skates impeccably. How did you learn to do that & what is going through your mind when you’re in the air?
Learning a back flip was a pretty stressful process. I, like many children, learned how to back flip on a trampoline when I was younger. I didn’t have any formal training, so I just tried to rely on my athleticism to figure it out. My coach had promised me that he would teach me how to do it on the ice, with the use of a makeshift harness. But he kept putting it off and I grew impatient. So I basically got on the ice and decided to just try it. It didn’t go well. I had about 3 pretty brutal days of fall after fall before I finally figured it out. I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid hitting my head on any, knock on wood. Its really not that difficult now, but is pretty stressful late in the program when my legs are burning. But I love it because it elicits a great response from the crowd.
When you were competing, how did you balance being friendly and a good sport, yet still remaining competitive?
Honestly, it wasn’t that hard. For the most part, I was friends with most of my competitors. We are in a sport where you cant really play defense. Its all about going out there, doing your best, and letting some 3rd party decide where you stacked up. I just wanted to better myself every time I stepped on the ice. As long as I felt like I was moving in the right direction, I was pretty happy.
What was the biggest challenge or obstacle you faced on your skating journey and how did you handle it?
My biggest obstacle was definitely dealing with injuries. I’ve had 3 knee surgeries, 6 screws in my foot, and shattered my arm throwing a dodgeball. Sitting on the sideline while you know your competitors are getting better is a very frustrating place to be.
Now that you’re a retired competitive skater, what are you up to now? Anything on the horizon for you this year?
I am still really involved in skating. I perform in shows across the country, I coach up and coming athletes, and I commentate the sport on the Olympic Channel and NBCSN.
Your life keeps you busy and traveling all the time. What’s your best travel tip?
My best tip is to carry on your luggage. Pack light and be flexible. You never know when something will interrupt your travel plans, and not having to deal with checked luggage can make a huge difference when you’re trying to get back on track.
If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
I definitely would tell myself to take things more seriously. So many things in life cant be learned as organically, later in life. So many of my bad habits come from decisions I made as a kid.
What (or who) inspires you to #DoStuff?
I just try to live my life with no regrets. I don’t want to ever look back and say what if. If I want to go do something, I go and do it before I can question it. It’s certainly led to a lot of amazing experiences.
And lastly, (I usually ask ‘what’s your favorite ice cream flavor’) but I know you’re allergic to dairy so what’s your favorite treat?
Donuts are my guilty pleasure. Just plain old simple glazed donuts. I used to treat myself with one after all of my major competitions. Now a days I have them very rarely.