Articles

Rob's Blog: Backstage With the Men

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Susan D. Russell
Denis Ten

The quads were flying around Budweiser Gardens on Wednesday night elevating the sport of figure skating right along with it.

It was a men’s short program, quite frankly, that just kept getting better and better as the night went on. Just when you thought you’d seen the performance of the night, someone came along with an even better one.

It was one of those special evenings of “can you top this?”

Put it this way: Canada’s Kevin Reynolds posted an 85.16-point score that was a season’s best by a bunch — and a mighty fine score on most nights. But this wasn’t just another night. He’s nearly 14 points behind countryman Patrick Chan, who’s 98.37 total wiped out the previous world record set by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

Perhaps here’s the tell-tale sign about the quality of what we saw on a wondrous Wednesday night. France’s Brian Joubert, who’s been critical of the dearth of quads in recent years, is liking this new direction. He’s liking it a lot.

“This season, I’m very happy, because I see a lot of skaters doing quads ... European, Japanese, (North) American,” said Joubert, who landed one himself and sits in fifth place. “So I’m very happy because the last two seasons, there were not enough quads.

"Technically, it was not good for me, so I was disappointed for my sport. Now the level is unbelievable ... artistically, technically, they can mix everything. I’m very happy to compete against this type of skater.”

He also knows he’ll need to do some bar raising of his own himself at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Joubert suggested he might need two quads in the short and three in the free to be in the gold-medal hunt. Yes, times have changed. And the sport wins.

*****

Yes, that was one whopper of a world record short program score that Chan put on the board. But 98.37 ... hard not to think about triple digits, right?

Well, maybe not for me or you.

“I didn’t think about it,” said Chan, when it was pointed out how close he was to the magic 100 score. “I was just so happy to do it.”

Indeed, Chan was so exhilarated by his performance, he said he felt a rush all the way from his boots through his entire body.

“You can only feel like that once in your lifetime, or if you’re going to jump off a building,” Chan said in a way only he can. “It’s finally good to be back on top. A good start is a world record and hopefully on Friday, I’ll really be on top of the world.”

*****

Inquiring minds have been wanting to know. And from all parts of the globe.

So what the heck, I decided to ask.

“Hey Kevin Reynolds, how do you make your hair do what it does.”

After hearty guffaws all around — and some pretty strong advice not to try it myself — Reynolds kindly offered up his secret.

“It’s very thick and it’s very curly, so it’s very hard to control it, no matter what I do,” the Vancouver native said of the mop that has helped make him hugely popular in Japan. “Basically, I’ve just gone with a style that I like.”

So there you have it. No muss, no fuss.

Unless the weather takes a turn for the worse, that is.

“If he’s out in the rain too long, it goes all Raggedy Ann,” said Joanne McLeod, his coach. “You get a whole other look if you want disco.”

*****

You thought Denis Ten was the surprise of the night?

The 19-year-old from Kazakhstan isn’t going to be the one to argue.

“I’m surprised, like everyone, that I got second today,” said Ten, who electrified the crowd by posting a huge 91.56-point score. “It’s a big honour for me to be up here with so many great skaters at this press conference.”

Of the “small” silver medal he earned for his efforts, Ten said “I’m happy for my country, because this is the first medal for Kazakhstan in its figure skating history.”

*****

Fun fact: When the Canadian Championships were held at this venue in 2005, Chan and Reynolds finished 1-2 — as juniors. An omen, perhaps?


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