Retired skater Kevin Reynolds salutes Hanyu’s quadruple axel pursuit, the skill of Japanese duets (Pt. 2)

Kevin Reynolds, who won the 2013 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, is seen at Osaka Municipal Central Gymnasium on February 9, 2013. (Mainichi/Kenji Konoha)

TOKYO — Known as a lover of Japanese games and cartoons, retired Canadian figure skater Kevin Reynolds, 31, spoke in an online interview with the Mainichi Shimbun about his memories of Japanese skaters. In part 2 of this series, he talks about Japanese ice dancing and pair duets as well as the evolution of jumps with increased rotations. The original Japanese article was published on July 17. Below are excerpts from the interview, partially edited for clarity.

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Mainichi: You mentioned Daisuke Takahashi as a skateboarder who left a lasting impression on you. After retiring from singles skating, he took up ice dancing and entered his third season with partner Kana Muramoto. How did you feel when you heard this news?

This image shows Kevin Reynolds during an online interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.

Reynolds: I think it was incredibly surprising. It’s not often you see single skaters, especially as accomplished and talented as Daisuke, make the jump to ice dancing. I have a lot of respect for him for being able to compete at a high level in singles for so many years, and now compete on the world stage (including the World Figure Skating Championships and the Four Continents Skating Championships artistic) in ice dancing in such a short time, and to do it so well with his partner.

Watching him play, I thought I couldn’t imagine being able to hold a twizzle (a series of turns on one foot that are performed by skaters in sync with each other) and deep edge and have confidence in such a short period of time. So I really like Daisuke and Kana’s skating, and I was happy to see them doing their best in competition.

M: Are there any skaters or scenes that stood out to you when you watched the Beijing Winter Olympics in February?

A: One of the highlights for me was seeing Ryuichi Kihara and Riku Miura do their best in pair skating for the figure skating team event. I remember competing (at) the same time as Kihara towards the end of my career. I watched him struggle for several years to learn all the pairing techniques. It was super exciting to see him and his partner skate their best when they needed it the most, and for them to win the team bronze medal for Japan.

Ice dance duo Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi are seen performing a free dance at the Japan Figure Skating Championships at the Big Hat Arena in Nagano City on December 27, 2020. (Pool Photo)

I also watched a lot of the men’s event. In the free skate, I was blown away by Hanyu’s attempt at the quad axel. (Although he fell on the attempt,) it was so close. To be able to do that on the world stage, to put it all on the line for the Olympics, which happen once every four years, is nothing short of legendary.

M: Did you imagine that skaters would try to do the quad axel when you were competing?

A: No, it was just quad Salchows and quad toe curls for the most part. But in 2015, Boyang Jin did a quad Lutz-triple toe loop combination and I thought, “How are you able to do that?” But it opened up the possibility for other people to start trying the quad flip, and then (in 2016) Hanyu did the quad loop for the first time in the world. This opened the door to the possibility of more difficult quad jumps. Now we see the end result of that, which is people trying the quad axel and getting really, really close. I think it’s exciting for fans to watch too.

M: Do you think a future skateboarder will be able to land a quintuple jump?

Japanese couple Ryuichi Kihara and Riku Miura are seen after their free skating performance at the Beijing Winter Olympics in this photo taken at Beijing Capital Indoor Stadium on February 19, 2022. (Mainichi/Koichiro Tezuka)

A: Oh, you know, never say never. In the past Javier Fernandez (from Spain) and I joked that three quads was probably the limit, because you’d be too tired to do anything else. And then you see skaters doing four, five, six quads, and then all the different types of quads. So it was very interesting to see where the limit is. I don’t think that will happen in the near future, but who knows? Maybe one day.

M: Do you plan to visit Japan in the near future?

A: I would like to travel to Japan again one day, either for vacation or for work, or maybe to judge a skating competition. I would be happy in every way to be able to go to Japan. I’ve been very busy with (my) masters, but once that’s done I’ll try to keep people more informed on social media. So I hope the fans can expect that. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to reconnect with the Japanese fans, even from a distance. I would also like to start learning Japanese again.

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Kevin Reynolds was born in 1990 in Vancouver, Canada. Excelling in jumping, he became the first skater to land two quadruple jumps in a short program, having performed a quadruple salchow and a quadruple toe loop at the 2010 Skate Canada International. Reynolds retired from competitive skating in December 2018. He is interested in Japanese culture and passed N2 of the Japanese Proficiency Test, which assesses the ability to understand Japanese used in everyday situations, as well as articles in newspapers and magazines.

(Japanese original by Hitoshi Kurasawa, Sports Information Department)

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