Osmond withdraws from Skate Canada International; Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia takes gold in Saint John

SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond bore a quiet, somber mien Saturday afternoon, when she withdrew from the women’s event at the Skate Canada International, after having been fifth in the short program.

She had battled bravely back from a “stress reaction” injury to make miracles, just to be here, but a new problem surfaced on Saturday morning. She woke up feeling pain in her right upper leg. It was really sore, she said.

She hoped for the best, thinking perhaps it was only a cramp and that movement would straighten things out. She went to an early practice that began at 9:20 a.m., but spent only five minutes on the ice, when it became clear she could not put any weight on the leg, and she could not lift her leg very high.

Osmond called it a hamstring issue, and already the wheels are rolling to start her treatment on Monday in Edmonton where she trains.

“We just decided that it was better to take the rest of this competition off,” she said sadly. She said it’s an injury she’s had before, that has come and gone every few months. It would bother her maybe only for a couple of hours, but the pain is much worse, and truthfully, she doesn’t quite know what it’s all about this time.

“I’m obviously disappointed that I won’t be able to do my long program that I trained,” she said. While she suffered her stress reaction, she worked on choreography and trained it off the ice. “When I came back, I was really set on coming here,” she said. “My long program is my favourite.”

She hopes to be recovered enough to train for her next Grand Prix, which is Cup of Russia, the last of the six Grand Prix events. That gives her time. The Russian Grand Prix has typically never been the last event, so she’s lucky.

The women’s event at Skate Canada earlier suffered from the withdrawal of 2010 Olympic champion Kim Yu-Na of South Korea, out with metatarsal injuires. And it also lost former world silver medalist Alena Leonova of Russia.

Without them, the event was still strong, with impish and flexible 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia, winning with 198.23 points. Lipnitskaia barely put a foot wrong, dazzled the crowd with her high kick spins and earned a standing ovation.

She received level fours for all of her elements. There is no guarantee she’ll make it to the Olympics: the Russian federation will use its own national championships and the European championships to pick the athletes it will send to Sochi.

The 28-year-old veteran, Akiko Suzuki from Japan won her third silver medal at Skate Canada, moving up from third after the short program to finish with 193.75 points well ahead of short program leader Gracie Gold, who fell on a triple Lutz and staggered out of an underrorated triple Salchow.

Former Canadian champion Amelie Lacoste finished fifth with renewed enthusiasm for her sport and senior Grand Prix newbie, Veronik Mallet was eighth.

Beverley Smith

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