2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships: Ryan Bradley wins first men's singles title
Monday, January 31, 2011; 12:26 AM
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Perhaps the least confusing way to sum up the chaotic men's final at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday afternoon is like this: One long-suffering, shamelessly happy veteran and two shell-shocked young guys made it to the podium.
Competing in his 11th U.S. championships, Ryan Bradley, 27, grabbed his first title with a fun, comic, joy-infused performance that was far from flawless - but less calamitous than the programs of the other top skaters.
His antics and grit - he recovered from mistakes on his first two jumps - delighted a crowd stunned by the chain of collapses it had just witnessed.
"That was probably the ugliest national championship program ever," said Bradley, who scored 231.90 points overall. "I love it because of that. . . . I never thought, 'Oh wow, I blew it.' I remember thinking, 'Okay, do something funny so they'll laugh and forget you just missed.' "
Richard Dornbush, 19, the recent junior grand prix champion, leaped from seventh at the beginning of the free skate to the silver medal (225.56), and Ross Miner, the 2009 junior champion, jumped from sixth to score the bronze medal (224.35) less than a week after turning 20. Both stayed on their feet with strong programs that drew standing ovations.
"You got these kids coming out of nowhere, throwing down clean longs [programs] like it's nothing," Bradley said.
Said Dornbush, "It is a little bit surreal."
Said Miner, "I couldn't be happier."
The most notable meltdown Sunday came from two-time defending champion Jeremy Abbott, who blew a chance to win his third straight title in a year in which Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and two-time world medal winner Johnny Weir weren't even in the field.
Abbott fell once and botched two other jumps; he was left with fourth place (224.16) - less than a point out of third. Alexandria's Armin Mahbanoozadeh claimed sixth (215.05), improving on his eighth-place finish last year.
Bradley's tumultuous season closely resembled that of Alissa Czisny, who claimed her second U.S. title in 10 championships Saturday night. Bradley and Czisny, 23, both considered retiring after failing to make last year's Olympic team; both put together two strong performances as younger, favored skaters faltered here.
Among the women, the most notable was 2008 U.S. champion Mirai Nagasu, 17, who fell from first to third - behind fellow '10 Olympian Rachael Flatt - and failed to make the world championship team that will compete in Tokyo in March.