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Canadian figure skater Kevin Reynolds continues to struggle with skate problems

10/16/2014 12:52 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST
BARRIE, Ont. - The equipment problems that cost Kevin Reynolds much of last season continue to plague the Canadian figure skater.

The 24-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., has already gone through four pairs of ill-fitting skates in training this season after trying out nine pairs last season.

"Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover it," Reynolds said. "But at this point, I've realized that there might never be a solution to this."

Reynolds was fifth at the 2013 world figure skating championships in London, Ont., and he had hoped to be in the medal mix at the Sochi Olympics. But all nine pairs of Risport boots he wore last season were too wide for his narrow AA heel despite custom fitting.

He has yet to find a solution and will open the Grand Prix campaign at Skate Canada International on Oct. 30 in Kelowna with little training under his belt.

"Needless to say, it's been very difficult. Even to be out here on the ice now is kind of a success in itself," said Reynolds, who finished sixed this week at the Autumn Classic in Barrie, Ont.

"It's been one thing after another, and finally the competitions are getting under way and I'm not nearly as prepared or as confident as I'd like to be at this time. But I think it's important to get the experience this week to be better prepared for Skate Canada."

Reynolds found success in 2013 wearing a stock pair of Risport boots that he bought off the shelf. Despite custom fitting that included two trips to the Risport manufacturer in Italy — most recently this past summer — the heels of the boots would break down after a week or two of wear.

"The inside padding of the boot is not keeping the ankle and the heel stable," he said. "So it's like wearing a pair of boots that's too big for you where your heel is sliding around in them, and when you're doing things as precise as footwork, quads, triple Axels, you need that stability in order to do a consistent performance."

It's been months of back and forth with the manufacturer in identifying the problem, and Reynolds said he believes they've finally made "significant progress."

"We're working through trial and error and this week we're right in the middle of that," he said. "But competitions don't wait for skaters' problems to resolve themselves."

Reynolds withdrew from both his Grand Prix competitions last year, and didn't make his season debut until the Canadian championships in January. He captured his third consecutive national silver medal behind Patrick Chan.

Reynolds went on to help Canada win a silver medal in the inaugural team event at the Sochi Olympics. He was 15th in the individual event.

With Chan out of the picture this season — the three-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist is taking a break from competition — this could have been Reynolds' season to shine. But the skate problems have greatly hindered his training.

A good day would be up to three hours on the ice with a run-through of both his short and long programs. He said now he's lucky to get through one run-through a day.

"It disrupts the training and you're not nearly as confident or prepared as you'd like to be," he said.

Reynolds is known both for his huge jumps and his purposefully-messy mop of red hair that became a Twitter sensation during the Sochi Olympics. He has a huge fan following in Japan, where there are fan websites dedicated to the Canadian.

Rather than withdraw from events this season, he's going to persevere.

"I know other skaters have their problems, whatever it may be injuries, psychological ... so this is one of the things I have to deal with," Reynolds said. "I want to do the best that I can and push through it for my fans and everybody who has been supporting me throughout this ordeal."

"When I get back home, I'm going to ignore what I'm feeling as much as possible and dig through the training," he added. "Because that's what I need the most heading into Skate Canada is more experience with the programs and more run-throughs."

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