Kevin Reynolds is ready to go to work
Kevin Reynolds is all business.
A couple of weeks ago the young skater was doing his regular workout at Burnaby 8 Rinks when he was called over to the boards by Ted Barton, head of skating in B.C.
The conversation was fairly straightforward but it carried rather large implications — Kevin Reynolds, you're going to your first world figure skating championships because Vaughn Chipeur is injured.
For most of us the reaction might have been rather emotional — "Oh my Lord, I'm going to the worlds in Italy!"
Reynolds had something else in mind.
"Instantly, my thought process changed about what I had to do [to prepare]," says the 19- year-old, who now represents one-half of the all-teenage men's team along with defending world silver medallist Patrick Chan (who is five months younger).
"I think [finding out so late] it takes a bit of the pressure off of me because I didn't know right away, and then, here it comes."
Yes, here it comes. World stage. International TV coverage. Sudden big-time exposure.
No pressure? Hardly.
Last year, Chipeur finished 12th at the worlds in Los Angeles, a key position because combined with Chan's surprise second it totalled 14 — that's one behind the 13 total needed to ensure three men's skaters at the Vancouver Olympics.
That meant whoever finished third at the nationals this year would be shut out of the Olympic experience. That skater turned out to be Reynolds.
Now, the Coquitlam resident has the pressure on him to combine with Chan for the big 13 so the 2011 world team has three men. And he also has to remember to do well for himself, too.
"It's disappointing we didn't have three [Olympic] spots … but you can't be angry at any of them, they did their best," he says. "It's in the back of my mind, and I'd like to come in the top-10 and get that 13 total, but as long as I skate well, hopefully the chips will fall where they may."
Speaking of falling, what makes Reynolds such a fascinating late addition — on top of the fact he skates to Led Zepellin and that before he had it trimmed, his hair was better known that the rest of him — is he's a big-time jumper, in the tradition of Brian Orser and Kurt Browning.
The judging rules that replaced the old 6.0 system have come under criticism for not giving big jumps the credit some believe they deserve — a quad missed, after all, can cost more than a quad made can gain, so more people are skipping them in favour of good triples.
That was the basis of Russian Evgeni Plushenko's argument against American Evan Lysacek beating him for the gold medal at Vancouver, and Frenchman Brian Joubert's criticism of Patrick Chan at last year's worlds.
Reynolds has a quad Salchow. And a quad toe. And a quad-triple-triple combination. Where he has to improve is on the presentation marks — choreography, etc.
"Obviously the jumps are my favourite part and the athleticism of figure skating," Reynolds says. "I'm still working towards that second presentation side, and I don't think I'm there right now in the top 10."
Overall, however, Reynolds has what it takes to make the top 10.
At this year's Four Continents in Korea, the young man, who was never higher than fifth at the world juniors, put down a dynamic personal best in the short program of 81.60 points and led what in an Olympic year is a second-tier competition.
He struggled in the long and fell to third, but overall came up with a best-ever total of 212.99. Projected onto the scores from last year's world championships in Los Angeles, that would have been good enough for eighth place.
At the recent Olympics, it would have been 11th.
Another personal best, and Reynolds might well be in the world top-10, especially with Lysacek off doing Dancing with the Stars and Plushenko not going to Italy either.
So out will come those jumps.
"[They do] provide an advantage in technical score (one half of the mark), but it's very risky. It's high reward, but high risk," he says.
Quads can also make the rest of the program more difficult, he adds, because even when you land them they take a lot of energy and concentration.
Still, Reynolds is a jumper. And this week at his first world championship, to the strains of Stairway to Heaven, he's jumping in with both skates.