By: Beverley Smith
When Kaetlyn Osmond finished her free skate at the Canadian Tire National Skating Championships, with the crowd standing cheering in front of her, she felt in shock.
It had been such a frustrating year for the 18-year-old native Newfoundlander with the sparkle and energy. One injury after another caused a change in plans again and again. But under coach Ravi Walia – a young coach who has never taken a skater to the Olympics – Osmond got to the finish line on Saturday with the best performances of her career and the highest points.
Osmond scored a total of 207.24 points, 24.77 points ahead of 15-year-old fireball Gabby Daleman, she of the wondrous triple-triple combinations and all the moxie to drive her to the top.
Taking the bronze medal was Amelie Lacoste, who left no stone unturned to fight for one of only two Olympic berths for Canadian women. She left her home and French-speaking community in Montreal to train in Colorado, aiming high. She fell short, with 166.69 points, a fraction ahead of another intrepid young Quebecker, Veronik Mallet. With 165.20. Alaine Chartrand was fifth with 161.46.
Daleman did by far the most difficult combination in the long program, a sabre-rattling triple Lutz – triple toe loop, a move that earned her 11.50 points. Osmond had a small margin of victory (2.28 points) over Daleman in the technical mark but she blasted the youngster with her performance marks. While Osmond earned 68.40 for her emotive Cleopatra program, Daleman earned 57.83.
Osmond, who said she’s skating better now than before her injuries, is even pushing marks of 9.0 in the program component (performance side.)
Osmond did only a triple toe loop- triple toe loop in the short program, and not in the long. Preferring to stick with her comfort-zone jumps that she did last season, especially after missing so much training time, Osmond is aiming for a top eight finish in Sochi (when she is actually chosen for the team). She’s not aiming for a podium finish. Coach Ravi Walia said it’s not realistic to expect her to top athletes who have say, five years’ experience doing formidable combinations. But who knows? Osmond finished fourth in the short program at worlds in London, with an overall goal of being in the top 10.
Daleman will turn 16 on Monday, and her idol, Joannie Rochette, also has a birthday on the same day. It could be a good omen.
When Daleman saw her marks, she looked overwhelmed and surprised. “It was great,” she said. “I was not expecting that score at all. I was not even focused on it from the beginning. I was more focused on what I needed to do to get the job done. I’ve been working really hard on my second mark. Just seeing that mark and getting over the 180 just made my day.”
Daleman’s previous highest mark was 174, she earned that earlier this season. She won the silver medal last year.
Osmond was getting ready to go on the ice and started to shake, just at the thought of what she has had to overcome this season. “I was actually nervous, but then I remember in practice I get nervous, but in practice the nerves are coming from if I don’t do a good program, I’ve got to redo it. But when the music started [here], it’s just like everything just went away and it was just like I was back home and just practicing in my own rink with my friends skating around me.”
“I’m really happy with that skate,” she said. “I was a little nervous, knowing what is on the line with Sochi but I just talked to myself, calmed myself down, knowing that I know how to do it, trust my training. I just felt great doing it. I just fought.”