From a bad break to mak­ing his­tory


The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MIL­TON

If you’re still pinch­ing your­self over see­ing two Cana­dian women on the world fig­ure skat­ing podium for the first time, imagine how Kaetlyn Os­mond feels.

“It’s still so hard to be­lieve that night, this en­tire sea­son, ac­tu­ally hap­pened,” said the 21-year-old from Marys­town, New­found­land, who won the sil­ver medal at the 2017 world cham­pi­onships, while 19year-old com­pa­triot Gabrielle Dale­man of New­mar­ket took bronze.

Both will be here with Stars on Ice May 6, but a lit­tle more than two years ago Os­mond was con­vinced that she wouldn’t be a star and she wouldn’t even be on the ice.

Os­mond was al­ready two-time na­tional cham­pion when, at 18, she broke her leg in two places in Septem­ber (9/11, ac­tu­ally) of 2014, while swerv­ing to avoid an­other skater dur­ing prac­tice. Her com­pet­i­tive sea­son was done be­fore it had re­ally started and, she thought, she was likely done for­ever.

“When I was in hospi­tal and found out I had bro­ken my leg, I said then and there, ‘I’m never step­ping on the ice again. I’m not com­pet­ing.’

“I was just so tired of be­ing in­jured. It was prob­a­bly the first time ever my coaches and par­ents ever had to force me to go on the ice, not so much to com­pete again, but so I could get over the fear of be­ing on the ice.”

She did get over it and with coach Ravi Walia, in Ed­mon­ton, be­gan re­build­ing from scratch what she’d known in­ti­mately most of her life.

“I had to re­learn how to skate,” she said. “I could barely stand on one foot. I was pretty well a CanSkate skater again.”

Dur­ing the re­con­struc­tion process, Os­mond and Walia also changed a few tech­ni­cal as­pects to her skat­ing, par­tic­u­larly in her jumps, every one of them. The jumps be­came more con­trolled and more re­li­able, which in turn fed her con­fi­dence.

“It’s made a huge dif­fer­ence,” she says. “It took a long time, but I trusted my jumps. And I need to trust my jumps. That al­lows me to en­joy the part of the pro­gram I love most, the chore­og­ra­phy.”

She has also changed her at­ti­tude go­ing into a com­pe­ti­tion, no longer wait­ing to see what hap­pens, but to ag­gres­sively go af­ter the things she wants to hap­pen.

Still, she didn’t fare well, at least in the stand­ings, when she re­turned to com­pe­ti­tion last year.

She fin­ished third at Cana­di­ans, be­hind win­ner Alaine Char­trand and Dale­man; and didn’t make the team for Worlds, where she’d pre­vi­ously fin­ished eighth and 11th.

But in 2016-17, she won sil­ver medals at two Grand Prix events, fin­ished fourth at the Grand Prix Fi­nal, and won her third Cana­di­ans.

And then came Worlds in Helsinki where, in less than 44 min­utes, she and Dale­man won as many women’s world medals as Canada had won in the pre­vi­ous 44 years.

“Ac­tu­ally, we skated only about 10 min­utes apart,” says Os­mond, who won Canada’s first medal in women’s com­pe­ti­tion since Joan­nie Ro­chette took sil­ver in 2009.

“To hear that Gabby and I made his­tory for Cana­dian skat­ing means so much. I’ve al­ready seen an im­pact in the coun­try from it.”

Os­mond ro­tates her jumps and spins clock­wise, while 90plus per cent of all skaters go counter-clock­wise.

“I’ve learned over the years to trans­late,” she laughs. “When the coach says ‘right’, I think left.”

Dale­man is also with Stars, which has a to­tally Cana­dian cast, in­clud­ing every cham­pion from this year’s Na­tion­als, along with for­mer Cana­dian world cham­pi­ons Kurt Browning, Elvis Sto­jko and Jef­frey But­tle.

“With all the past cham­pi­ons there, you re­mem­ber how long this coun­try has been good at this, and how good we can con­tinue to be,” Os­mond says.

“It’s re­ally in­cred­i­ble to look around and see who’s on the ice, and to think I’m a part of that.”

A re­ally big part of that.


Cana­di­ans Kaetlyn Os­mond, right, and Gabrielle Dale­man with their sil­ver and bronze medals dur­ing the vic­tory cer­e­mony at the World Fig­ure Skat­ing Cham­pi­onships in Helsinki.


Kaetlyn Os­mond skates dur­ing the free pro­gram at the world cham­pi­onships in March.

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