Despite all of his skating boot issues and a lack of international competition this year, Kevin Reynolds clinched an Olympic silver medal for Canada in the team event.
Canada has been the favoured team going into the event, but faced an onslaught of talented Russians, including a rejuvenated Evgeny Plushenko who won the men’s long program. He was helped by a 15-year-old sprite, Julia Lipnitskaia, who won both the women’s short and long programs, the number 2 pair team, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov and by a second Russian dance team, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, who finally unleashed their talent.
Reynolds got help from Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch finishing second in the pair long program, Kaetlyn Osmond snaring fifth in the women’s long, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir finishing second in the free dance.
Patrick Chan finished third in the men’s short program, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished second in the pair short, Virtue and Moir were second in the short dance, and Osmond didn’t put a foot wrong in finishing fifth in the women’s short program.
The bronze medal went to the United States.
Reynolds missed the entire Grand Prix season and the Olympic Games represented his first international competition of the season. What a way to start. “I definitely didn’t get the experience I wanted this year, especially going into an Olympic Games,” he said. “But I got in three good weeks of training and I’m happy with what I did. It’s a great start.”
Reynolds has gone through eight pairs of boots to find the right fit. He calls his current pair “tolerable.”
The Canadian silver medalist found out only a few days ago that he would do the long program in the team event.
Plushenko fired off a quadruple toe loop off the start, landed a couple of easy triple Axels, then double a couple of jumps (Salchow and loop) at the end of his program. His 168.20 points was only .28 points better than Reynolds’ effort.
Reynolds showed the old king that others can do quads, too, and in combination. In all, Reynolds landed three quads in his routine, his first one a big, long quad Salchow, then a quad toe – triple toe loop combo, and then eventually a quad toe loop, with perfect calmness and ease. He stumbled out of a triple Axel, but was mobbed by his teammates when he finished with 167.92 points.
Tatsuki Machida of Japan, landed one quad, two big triple Axels, and just about everything else, and finished third with 165.85 points. “I really thought I had a chance to win this group,” Machida said. “I needed to finish first to give the Japanese team a true shot at a medal. There was no room for error. I feel bad for letting everyone down.” He said he was never so nervous.
Plushenko said he felt of pain in his back during his doubled Salchow and blamed that for his mistakes. “Now I cross my fingers for a gold medal,” he said. He said he will try two quads in the individual event. “Today is just a warm-up,” he said. “I’m not skating with Yuzuru or with Patrick Chan, so we decided on no quad today but just land clean.” (He did land a quad toe loop.)
He said he also has a triple Axel – triple flip combination in his back pocket, one nobody else in the world has done.
Osmond set the stage for Canada, gaining 110.73 points at her first Olympics. She took a hard fall on her hip on a triple Lutz, and doubled a triple flip, but picked herself up and finished the plan. “We had Kaetlyn Osmond out there, 18 years old and we asked her to do two skates at an Olympic Games,” said Moir, the team captain. “The great thing about the team is that everyone pulled their weight. We’re so proud of our team.”
Lipnitskaia said she got nervous in the middle of the program and doesn’t know why. It’s unlike her, calm at all times. Errors crept in. She admitted she was nervous to skate after Plushenko because she didn’t want to let the team down. “He was very happy for me at the end and congratulated me in the kiss and cry,” she said. Lipnitskaia was called for doping control late the previous night, after she had finished the short program quite late. “It was quite difficult for me.”
Virtue and Moir had a shaky entrance to a lift, but got it quickly under control to finish second with 107.56 points, far from their best score. Meryl Davis and Charlie White set a world record of 114.34 points although the timing was off on their entrance into twizzles.
Virtue came out with a new vermillion costume, decorated with gold. “We wanted to make a statement,” she said. “We’re performing this program twice and I wanted two dresses.” She’ll wear her pastel costume for the individual free skate.
Moir said they had a good skate but “the levels weren’t where they needed to be,” he said. “We skated strong and we put in a lot of hard work, so we’re happy to bring home a medal for Canada.”
He said five or six of the points they missed are on the technical side and they can work on that for next week.
“It’s a very demanding program but we’re still building on it,” Moir said. “Up until now, I’ve only thought about the team, but now it’s time to move forward.”
Virtue said it was incredibly meaningful for them to share the experience with the rest of the Canadian team. “There were a lot of personal bests here and I can’t wait to stand on the podium with everyone.”
Canada’s silver medal was watched by other athletes, too. On twitter, bobsledder Jesse Lumsden said: “So proud of our figure skaters getting some hardware in the team event. Pulling off all those Salchows and spinny things.”