But finally, Kevin Reynolds believes it's over. He's found a pair of skates that fit.
And now the 24-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., heads into next week's Canadian figure skating championships in Kingston, Ont., more confident than he's been in ages, and with his eyes on capturing his first national senior title.
"I want to be able to show that I can be back in competitive shape, and I've done everything that I can, and whatever happens at the national championships, whether it's good or bad, I'll know I put my utmost effort into it," Reynolds said on a conference call Friday.
Reynolds' skate issues began early last season, when he couldn't find a pair of boots that properly fit his uniquely shaped foot: very narrow at the heel and wide in the front. He went through nine pairs of boots last season, four in the off-season. He finally gave up counting.
So after having to withdraw from both Skate Canada International and the NHK Trophy, he switched his focus to other brands of boots, trying the best model available in every brand until he found one he liked.
Which brand he chose, he preferred not to say Friday. He'll talk about that after the Canadian championships.
But the new boots have allowed him to train hard for a solid four to five weeks, which is more than he's managed in almost two seasons.
"To be able to train my programs, to be able to train the quadruple jumps every day, and gain some of the consistency back, it's really helped my confidence, and I'm looking forward to putting things out there again," Reynolds said.
In nine Canadian senior championships, Reynolds has won a bronze medal, and finished with silver medals the last three seasons behind Patrick Chan. But Chan, an Olympic silver medallist and three-time world champion, is taking this season off to ponder his competitive future, and Reynolds said a national title would be the perfect way to mark his 10th appearance in the event.
Among the other skaters eyeing the national title: 16-year-old Nam Nguyen, who won last year's world junior championships.
Reynolds said his small amount of decent training isn't the ideal preparation for the Canadian championships.
"I've had to compress a whole year's training into four or five weeks," he said.
But being able to finally compete in a boot that fits, and won't break down after a couple of weeks of training — a secondary issue he'd been encountering — has been a massive weight lifted.
"(The lack of confidence) was more of an issue heading into the national championships and Olympic Games last year, because I had never dealt with something of this magnitude before," Reynolds said. "But it has been ongoing for so long that I've really become almost accustomed to it, that things have not been as consistent as I'd like, and I've just had to fight through it, and do the best I can."
Coming off a fifth place finish at the 2013 world championships, Reynolds had high hopes for last season. But after helping the Canadians win silver in the first ever team event at the Olympics in Sochi, the skater known for jumping ability stumbled to a 15th place finish in the individual event.
Heartbreak and frustration would follow him into this season, as he pulled out of both Skate Canada International and NHK Trophy because of lack of preparation and a sprained ankle he suffered that he partly attributes to his ill-fitting skates.
"It was a very difficult decision for me (to withdraw from the two Grand Prix events), because I had felt like I had let people down that had supported me, and not only that but I couldn't believe at that point that the issues I had been dealing with had continued on for so long," Reynolds said.
"I've had so many people helping me out, I just want to give back a little bit to all the people who have sacrificed their time and effort to try and help me along the way."Suggest a correction