It was the moment that many Canadian figure skating fans were waiting for, and Kaetlyn Osmond gave it to them, and then some.
The bronze medalist last season, Osmond showed up at the 2013 Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., as the overwhelming favorite, and skated away with the title after stunning performances that lived up to the pre-event hype.
“I felt a little pressure going in to the event, but when I stepped on the ice and skated around, I felt the love of the audience and I fed off their excitement of being there,” shared the gold medalist. “When I was warming up and then got into my starting positions for my program, it felt like any other competition, and I just had to do what I could do for me to be happy, no matter what the placement.”
The 17-year-old was the first non-Québécois to win the title in ten years—and the first with ties to Newfoundland and Labrador, to walk away as champion in the history of the event. Joey Russell from Labrador City, was the first to win a senior medal—a bronze in 2011.
“There is a little bit of pride to win the title,” Osmond said. “I remember going through all the levels and there were always people from Quebec at the top. Even last year, the two ahead of me on the podium were both representing Quebec. So it does feel amazing knowing I brought some more sights set on other provinces and not just Quebec.”
Osmond’s season started out with a bang with a win at Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, where the upstart won the title over three-time Russian champion Adelina Sotnikova.
“It was my first senior international and it was my first time in Germany,” she explained. “Because it was my first senior international, I knew I had no pressure on me. Competing felt just like every other competition, and since I was second skater in the short, I left the rink to relax a bit before I came back for the draw. I didn’t know what I placed after the short until the draw, and when I heard my name in second place, that moment I was so excited. I knew it didn’t matter what happened in the long, I already did more than what I was expecting at the competition.”
“After my long, I was so excited with how I skated,” she continued. “I really didn’t care about the placement, but watching the last skater, I knew the lowest I could have been was second, and that’s where I thought I was going to place. So I actually sent a message to my parents as I was watching the last skater and I was so excited to say that I was going to place second.”
Just as she sent the message, Osmond heard the score for the last skater and was in complete disbelief when she heard that she had won.
“Nebelhorn was just an amazing experience and it has given me that extra bit of confidence and motivation that has helped me to continue to push myself in practice.”
A month later, Osmond was making her debut on the Grand Prix on home ice in Windsor, Ont., and came away with the same result—another title to add to her resume. This time, she defeated reigning World bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki from Japan.
“Seeing the list of other skaters, I knew I shouldn’t expect too much for my placement because of the amount of talent that was being brought to the competition,” she recalled. “I remember telling my parents before I left for the competition that I would be very happy if I just didn’t come last.”
Osmond admits to being a bit nervous going into the competition as she didn’t want to disappoint.
“But when I got on the ice and the cheering began, it just filled me with the confidence I needed to make it through my program,” she said. “After my short, I was tremendously excited with how I skated and got myself a personal best. Then I remember cooling down upstairs and hearing the scores, unbelieving that I managed to hold on to second place.”
“Going into the long, I was thinking I had nothing to lose,” she continued. “After I skated, I (knew that) I made a couple mistakes, but still when I heard my score I couldn’t stop smiling. Standing in the back, I waited for the last skater to skate and waited for her scores. When I heard that I won, I almost started to cry I was so excited.”
“Standing on the podium and seeing the Canadian flag being raised, I was overwhelmed with excitement,” she summed up of her senior grand prix debut. “It was actually by the time I got home and got back into routine that I had realized that what I had done wasn’t just a dream and that it actually had happened.”
Osmond was, of course, was disappointed that she did not receive a second invitation to compete on the Grand Prix circuit, but used the time away from competition to prepare herself for the rest of the season.
“I was hoping to get named to a second (event) and hopefully make it to the Final,” she admitted, “but I had known at the beginning of the year that I was only named to Skate Canada, and I didn’t even think that a second one would be an option. So not getting a second Grand Prix didn’t really affect me—I was just happy with what I had already done with my season, and wasn’t too worried about getting a second competition.”
“Taking the time to not have to worry about making it to the Final definitely was a blessing in disguise,” she added. “I was able to keep things the same as my past years, doing the same amount of competitions around the same time. I think that by not doing a second Grand Prix I was able to not throw too much on my plate at once.”
Osmond began skating at the age of two when she followed her older sister, Natasha, to the rink.
“I got into it because I was always at the rink watching my sister skate and I wanted to be just like her,” she explained. “Also my parents wanted to put me in Canskate to learn to skate before I went into hockey. I never did play hockey afterwards though—I stuck with figure skating.”
Originally from the shipbuilding town of Marystown, Newfoundland and Labrador, Osmond followed Natasha, now 20, to Montreal to train when she was just seven years old.
“I had already done quite a few competitions, but when I was seven, I went to my very first sectionals in pre-juvenile,” she said.
Osmond, who now lives in Sherwood Park, Alberta, and trains with former Canadian men’s bronze medalist Ravi Walia in Edmonton, enlists the help of a wide array of support team members.
“My coach is mainly there to work on my spins, step sequences, and jumps—focusing mostly on the technical elements,” she explained. “I work with choreographer, Lance Vipond, who in addition to all of my choreography, works on the program components. Lynne Koper works on my skating skills and stroking.”
Knowing that as an athlete she needs to be well rounded in her approach to optimum fitness, Osmond also employs a support team off ice.
“I have a personal trainer, Tara Danyluk, who focuses on my strength building, cardio, and toning. I also go to a private Pilates lesson with Robyn Lloyd, who helps me with balance, core stability, and leaning out,” she revealed. “I work with dietitian, Charlotte Varem-Sanders, who focuses on my eating habits—making sure I’m eating the right amount of the right things and when I should have everything.”
A grade twelve student, Osmond attends Vimy Ridge Academy in Edmonton—a sports-based school that accommodates a busy athlete’s schedule.
I go to school until noon every day,” said Osmond. “I am just doing standard courses. (Last) semester I was taking my courses online, and was taking doing math and social studies. [This semester] I’m going to be back in classes to learn physics and English.”
Though Osmond prefers the freedom that online classes present, she also understands that it takes hard work and dedication to remain on task with her schoolwork.
“I like doing courses online because it gives me time to work at my own pace, but it is quite hard,” she explained. Also, even (when) I do my courses online, I go to a classroom at school designated for people doing online learning so that I still get the school experience and still get to socialize with friends.”
Outside of the rink, Osmond likes to do normal teenager things like relax and hang out with friends.
“But I am big fan of photography,” she interjected. “I like going on walks and taking pictures of friends or just the view. I read a lot, too—any sort of book is fine.”
In addition to her sister, Osmond also has a brother, Gary, who is 26-years-old.
“I’m the youngest in the family,” she said. “Both of my parents were in sports growing up, and they wanted to have their kids in sports also. My brother did a couple of sports growing up, but not skating. My sister competed in skating at the junior level at nationals in pairs, dance, and singles. The last year she competed, I was so excited to actually compete against her.”
In winning the Canadian title, Osmond was named as her nation’s lone entrant into the World Championships in London, Ont., in March.
“Just being named to the team is already amazing and exciting,” Osmond admitted. “Now I’m just really excited to go there and to experience it all to its fullest, and hopefully skate well and improve on what I have been doing all season so far.”
First, however, Osmond will head to Osaka, Japan, this week where she will make her senior level ISU Championships debut at the Four Continents Championships.
“I haven’t really ever been someone to get nervous,” she said about competing. “If I am ever nervous, it’s always waiting to go to the competition or on the bus ride to the rink. Once I get to the rink and look around, I usually start to calm down and just start getting really excited to be there. Once I finally step onto the ice to compete and just skate around, it is like I absorb the excitement of the crowd which just makes me remember that this is why I love skating. I love the feel for the ice and the excited audience, so when I get to my starting position, I just take a breath and let myself fall into my music.”