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Bradley having a blast in Germany

Skater touring on Katarina Witt's farewell tour

Ryan Bradley leads the 21-member field at Liberty after a rollicking short program set to a medley of Elvis Presley tunes.
Ryan Bradley leads the 21-member field at Liberty after a rollicking short program set to a medley of Elvis Presley tunes. (Getty Images)

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By Jocelyn Jane Cox, special to icenetwork.com
(03/03/2008) - Last year, crowd pleaser Ryan Bradley thrilled the audience at the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, with two excellent performances in the senior men's event. Then, after learning he'd earned second place and his first national medal since 1999, he got back on the ice and executed a celebratory back flip. In response, the arena went wild.

He charmed audiences again at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships with a short program set to the music of The Godfather and a free skate depicting Charlie Chaplin. Bradley has impressive triple and quadruple jumps, but while he racks up points, it is his natural charisma that shines through.

Since his enjoyment of skating is so contagious, it's no surprise that he's been invited to tour overseas. For the last few weeks he's been performing with the Katarina Witt Farewell Tour, officially called Katarina Witt Meine Abschiedstournee. The show is making stops in eight German cities. Icenetwork.com caught up with him on the road.

How did this opportunity come about?

I was contacted by Kat's manager shortly after nationals. The opportunity came about when Brian Boitano and his coach recommended my skating to Kat and thought I would be a good fit for the show.

Who else is performing, and what is it like to tour with them?

This tour is full of great people: Kat, Brian, Steven Cousins, Caryn Kadavy, Naomi Lang & Peter Tchernyshev, and a few other teams. They are all really nice and touring with them has been a blast. Never a dull moment no matter where we are.

What is the schedule like?

The schedule is pretty lax here. We do about three shows a week and, with only one exception, we never have shows on consecutive days. They have done a superb job of pacing the tour to keep us well rested for each show. It is pretty key in having our bodies prepared to consistently do our best.

What programs are you doing?

The whole show is a look back at Kat's career. So we are all doing themes that relate to Kat. I am in several group numbers, and my solos are to "Hello" by Lionel Richie, and "Rockstar" by Nickelback.

We assume you are including your notorious back flip?

Yeah, I am definitely doing my flip. I came up with another new trick after nationals so I have been implementing that into the show as well.

What cities are you visiting and which ones have been the most fun so far?

We are visiting Berlin, Chemnitz, Riesa, Oberhausen, Magdeburg, Dusseldorf, Bremen and Hanover. Those are our shows. We rehearsed in Bad Sachsa, which is the city I have probably enjoyed the most. It is a tiny German town in the Harz Mountains. They were really grateful to have us there and very accommodating. I also really enjoyed Berlin. Very different from Bad Sachsa, but it was a very cool city. Seeing the remaining pieces of the Berlin wall was really cool as well. I don't really know much about the other cities that we are headed to, but I am excited about the idea of traveling to all the new places.

How is your German coming along?

I have only learned the basics. Danke schön (thank you), bitte schön (you're welcome), and guten tag (good day).

Are you enjoying the schnitzel or any other German specialties?

The schnitzel is wonderful. But I would have to say my favorite German food is spaetzle. It is a type of potato pasta and it is pretty wonderful.

What is the best part about this experience so far?

The people that I have come to know are by far the best part of coming. I have made great friends and wouldn't trade that for the world. The experience of the show and being in almost every number is also a really great learning experience. The challenge of doing all my tricks on small ice surfaces has been a great experience as well.

Are you starting to think about next year's competitive season?

As soon as I am done, I am headed back to the states for some much needed time off. I have been getting some program ideas in my head and working on some new training methods to prepare me to be competitive with the best next season.