2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Ryan Bradley takes lead over Jeremy Abbott after men's short program
Saturday, January 29, 2011; 12:13 AM
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Ryan Bradley's engaging performance in the short program of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday night sparkled like the necklace Jeremy Abbott had to skate around earlier.
More on that later.
Wearing a tan Army uniform and skating to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," Bradley used an electric, polished and powerful effort to take a surprising and narrow lead over Abbott, the two-time defending U.S. champion, entering Sunday's deciding free skate.
Bradley scored 80.39; Abbott, 78.39 - both well ahead of the third-place Brandon Mroz, who claimed 71.61, while Alexandria's Armin Mahbanoozadeh stood in eighth place with 66.77. Scott Dyer of Laurel was 18th with 55.78.
Bradley's skate, which included a quadruple-triple combination jump and salute to the crowd after he finished, came about four months after waffling about whether to retire in the wake of major surgery in May to repair a broken foot.
"I was referring to myself as Brett Favre - without the success - all offseason," Bradley said.
Now back to the necklace. In the fleeting minutes before the start of Abbott's program, as he took the ice to prepare - well, attempt to prepare - all of the following took place:
The skater who had just performed, Jonathan Cassar, weaved around the ice - and even Abbott himself - looking for the chain and pendant that had apparently fallen from his neck during his skate.
Six little girls in green dresses were summoned to help with the search by the public address announcer, who proclaimed with enthusiasm: "We need SUPER SWEEPER duty! This is a team effort, ladies and gentlemen." Abbott, confused, continued to ready himself.
And, while cameras were trained on Cassar, he determinedly stuck his hand straight down the front of his pants in the hope of locating the chain down there somewhere. His coach - wily skating veteran Frank Carroll - alertly leaped in front of him to provide cover with an outstretched Team USA jacket. The crowd, watching on the giant screen, broke up.
Abbott, whose skate was delayed about five minutes, tried to keep his cool.
Somehow he did.