SOCHI, Russia Javier Fernandez's skates are barely holding together, the leather cracking a little more with every high-impact quadruple jump he lands in training at the Sochi Games.
But every time the Spaniard has worn new boots in competition he has had trouble with his jumps.
"I couldn't do my jumps properly. So I was really afraid about what was going on, whether it was something in my head," the 22-year-old, who became the first Spaniard to win a major figure skating title by striking gold at the 2013 and 2014 European championships, told reporters.
"I would do one quad out of five tries. I would only land one and that's not me. When I changed to my old skates I was landing five out of five... maybe they are lucky."
Fernandez dug out his old boots after struggling this season to break in two new pairs of skates, which can take weeks until the stiff, thick leather shapes to a skater's foot.
"I knew everything wasn't right. My skates weren't right," he said.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)