Figure Skating

Scott Russell - Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 07:46

Field of Play: Kevin Reynolds's big chance

Figure skater steps out of the shadows and into the Olympic light

Kevin Reynolds is embraced by teammates after a successful free program during the team figure skating event Sunday at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
Kevin Reynolds is embraced by teammates after a successful free program during the team figure skating event Sunday at the Sochi Olympics in Russia. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Here’s the thing about the Olympics: the chance to shine doesn’t roll around every day.

So when someone seizes the day and captures the limelight while rising somewhat unexpectedly out of the shadows, it’s worth sitting up and taking notice.

Such was the case with Kevin Reynolds, the 23-year-old figure skater from Coquitlam, B.C. Long the understudy to three-time world champion Patrick Chan, Reynolds found himself in a pressure-filled crucible on the final night of competition in the début figure skating team event at Sochi 2014.

Odd considering he had missed much of his season with various injuries and equipment problems; he couldn’t find a pair of skates to fit his uniquely shaped feet. For Reynolds it had been a frustrating journey just to get to Sochi and realize his ambition to compete at the Olympics. Only a gutsy performance, which led to a second-place finish at the national championships in Ottawa, made it possible for him to be here.

“I’ve tried everything. I even went back to the old boots but they have no life left in them,” Reynolds said before the team event. “It’s not resolved, but hey, it’s the Olympics, and I’ll fight through.”

So when he got the call to replace Chan for the free program on the final night, Reynolds must have had his doubters, he may have even questioned himself.

But he never let on, not for a moment.

Reynolds is an individual and chooses his own music to skate to. He is known to be different from the others and you might even say a little offbeat.

“I like to skate to music which hasn’t been used before by others, it’s how I hope to express my individuality.” Reynolds told me. “We have a lot of required elements and not much time to do them therefore we are trying to be creative as best we can within a box.”

Indeed, Reynolds used a symphonic sound track from a movie never released called Excelsius in his free skate once he got the window of opportunity. But he also called for, and landed, three quad jumps at the Iceberg Skating Palace in what turned out to be a startling and remarkable effort.

While 2006 Olympic champion, 31-year-old Evgeni Plushenko, won the hearts of the crowd by hauling some endearing old tricks out of the bag, it was Reynolds whom the judges noticed and rewarded with marks nearly as good as the beloved Russian.

He had been the Four Continents champion a year ago and a solid fifth-place finisher at the world championships in London, Ont., but Reynolds was never as good as he was when he got to the Olympic stage at long last.

On the sidelines, his teammates, including Patrick Chan, stood and cheered, and when he got his marks they embraced Reynolds and recognized in him the clutch skater who nailed down their silver medal prize.

For his part, he flashed a huge, uncharacteristic smile and pumped his fist with glee. When he came with the eight other skaters into our studio and we interviewed the whole team, he stood proudly beside Chan. Then “live” on the air they cheered and celebrated him in an impromptu way.

As someone who has long covered Kevin Reynolds’s career, it was so good to witness that.

To know that once he got his big chance he more than made good.

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