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Reynolds looks to make history at junior worlds

It's all about the quad-triple-triple

Kevin Reynolds would like to chat with Evengy Plushenko.
Kevin Reynolds would like to chat with Evengy Plushenko. (Skate Canada)

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By Laurie Nealin, special to icenetwork.com
(02/20/2008) - Canada's Kevin Reynolds has never met Olympic and world champion Evgeny Plushenko, but he wouldn't mind having a chat with Russia's figure skating icon.

The topic: the quad-triple-triple. The rare jump combo that only two skaters in the world have ever landed in competition. That would be Reynolds, 17, and Plushenko, who made history with that combination at Cup of Russia in 2002.

"I'd ask him how he felt when he did it for the first time, sort of compare techniques with the quad," said Reynolds who scored a Canadian first by landing the storied three-jump combination last month at the national championship.

As for his own first-time experience, Reynolds said, "It was kind of odd doing something [the quad-triple-triple combo] that I idolized someone for doing before."

Next week, Reynolds, who landed his first quadruple jump three seasons ago, could repeat the three-jump feat when he hits the ice at the ISU World Junior Championships Sofia, Bulgaria. But, he's not making any promises because of the huge risk involved.

"I guess if I'm far enough ahead in the short program, I would go for it," said Reynolds, whose goal is to come away with gold in his third run at the junior world title. He was fifth last season and seventh in 2006.

According to the B.C. skater, the ability to tack two triples onto the landing of the quadruple requires all the stars to align.

"Once you've landed the quad, you have to be pretty much perfect on your edge and have enough speed still, so you can do the extra two [triple] jumps.

"Once you land the first jump [the quad], you have a split second to say, 'Ok, I'm going for it,' or to decide not to do the second jump. Once you decide to go for it, you pretty much have to go for it," said Reynolds, explaining the thinking that goes on as the combo unfolds.

"The third jump [the loop], you do it in combination with the triple toe. It's kind of boom, boom. You don't really think about it."

Canada's veteran at the world juniors will be joined by newly-crowned Canadian junior champ Elladj Balde, and the 2007 junior titleholder Jeremy Ten, who ranked 11th as a senior last month in his hometown of Vancouver. Both Reynolds, who finished sixth at Canadians, and Ten are coached by Joanne McLeod.

Reynolds names Americans Adam Rippon and Brandon Moroz as the men who stand between him and the top of the podium.

While Plushenko beat Reynolds to the punch by some five years in landing in the global record book with the quad-triple-triple, the young Canadian has other history-making tricks up his sleeve.

Nailing a quad Salchow-triple toe-triple loop combo, which Reynolds has done in practice, would be a first, although likely would warrant only a sidebar notation as a variation on Plushenko's original record-setting series.

What could earn Reynolds the title of history maker under two different headings, however, is the quadruple loop.

First, a four-revolution loop has never been successfully executed in competition, and Reynolds reports his is coming along nicely.

"I would hope to try to put that in next year," he said.

Second, if Reynolds could get the quad loop done, as well as a four revolution toe-loop and Salchow in his long program, that would make him the first skater ever to do three different [types of] quads in one program. Having landed both a quadruple toe loop and a quadruple Salchow at Cup of Russia in December, Reynolds is two-thirds of the way there.

But lest anyone think that all those quads would make him unbeatable, Reynolds notes that the base point value for a stand alone quad, even a loop, is less than what the high end triple-triple jump combinations are worth -- if done in the second half of a program.

"That's not going to deter me," he clarified. "Just to have your name in the record book, I think that would be fun."

All told, Canada is sending 14 athletes to Sofia for the 2008 World Junior Championships. In addition to the three men, the team has one entry in the women's event, two in pairs and three in ice dance.

Canada's medal contenders in pairs and ice dance are Amanda Velenosi and Mark Fernandez and Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, respectively.

Velenosi and Fernandez, fifth at the recent junior Grand Prix Final, were sixth at the junior worlds last year.

Crone and Poirier are also making a second appearance at junior worlds. They will be looking for a significant move from their ninth place result a year ago after winning gold twice on the Junior Grand Prix circuit this season, and ranking fourth at the Final.

Myriane Samson, the lone women's entry, was fifth in senior company at last month's Canadian Championships and has the goods to challenge for the podium. Still, a history of not delivering on competition day -- she was 18th at Junior Worlds last year -- has plagued her international career.