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Life full of irony for the Reeds

Brother and sister thrive while skating for Japan

Cathy and Chris Reed made their Grand Prix debut this season at Skate America.
Cathy and Chris Reed made their Grand Prix debut this season at Skate America. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Jack Gallagher, special to icenetwork.com
(01/17/2008) - YOKOHAMA - Life is often full of irony. Just ask ice dancers Cathy Reed and Chris Reed.

Born in Michigan to a Japanese mother and American father, the siblings lived a vagabond life as youngsters, moving wherever their dad's job with a Japanese pharmaceutical company took them.

The stops included Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, internationally, and several more cities in the U.S. Their moves numbered nearly a dozen over the years.

Even though they were born in the United States, the Reeds now skate for Japan, thanks to their dual nationality. The duo made their debut on the senior Grand Prix circuit this season, finishing ninth at Skate America in October and eighth at the NHK Trophy over a month later.

In December, they skated at the Japanese nationals near Osaka, which they won, and are currently preparing for the Four Continents Championships in South Korea in February.

Cathy and Chris Reed began skating about the same time, when she was 7 and he was 5, and the family was living in the States.

Like many children, the inspiration for their sport of choice came from one of their parents. In this case, it was their mother.

"Our mom loved the sport of ice skating," Chris said during the NHK Trophy in Sendai. "She never skated, but she loved watching it. We just kept skating for fun and entering local competitions."

"We started with singles skating first, and it wasn't serious at all," Cathy noted. "We were living in Michigan at the time, and my mom just put us on the ice for fun."

The big move in their skating careers occurred in conjunction with one of the family's many relocations.

"When we moved to New Jersey, when I was 12, we started skating together because singles skating wasn't going so well," Cathy said with a laugh.

"We were still doing it for fun, but then we just started getting more serious and training harder, and two years ago, we went to Shae-Lynn Bourne, and that is when it really started taking off," Chris said.

Bourne and partner Victor Kraatz became the first North American ice dancing world champions when they won the 2003 crown.

After agreeing to work with the Reeds, Bourne married coach Nikolai Morozov, and despite the fact the pair later divorced, they still coach the Reeds together.

"We actually approached Shae-Lynn Bourne first, and she decided to take us on," Cathy said. "They were working together, so they took us on, but Shae-Lynn was our head coach at that time, and Nikolai choreographed our program, and we won [U.S.] nationals that year [2006 - in the novice ranks]."

Morozov, who coached Shizuka Arakawa to the gold medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics and is considered by many to be the top skating mentor in the world today, has assembled an impressive stable of world-class athletes, as Chris points out.

"We skate with [world champion] Miki Ando and [world runner-up] Daisuke Takahashi at our training base in Hackensack, New Jersey."

Following their U.S. national title in the novice division, the Reeds were faced with a dilemma that would result in the tandem having to pack their bags more frequently than they had expected.

"After we won nationals as novices, we could not compete junior internationally because of my age, so we decided to skate senior for Japan," Cathy said. "We had that in mind because we had dual citizenship, and there are so many great teams in the U.S.

"We thought it would be a great way to compete internationally and gain more experience."

"It was a great move," Cathy said with conviction. "Especially considering Japan's lack of pairs and ice dance teams."

It is an amazing fact that Japan, which is as strong as any nation in the world in the singles ranks, has a dearth of talent in pairs and ice dancing. So thin is the talent pool that at the recent Japanese nationals there was no pairs competition, because there were no pairs teams entered.

The ice dancing category consisted of just one team -- the Reeds.

When asked why she thought Japan lacked skaters in pairs and ice dancing, Cathy cited physiology.

"It is primarily because of body structure," she said. "Most Japanese people are short and have shorter legs. In ice dance, long lines look better on the ice."

Chris is 6'1", while Cathy stands 5'6".

"Luckily we got our dad's genes," she added with a smile.

With just over two years to go until the 2010 Vancouver Games, Chris makes no secret of he and his sister's ambitions.

"We are looking forward to the Olympics," he said. "Nikolai has great plans for us. We are looking forward to creating more new and interesting programs with him."