An impish grin at the end of her program told the tale of two falls mid-program that drew gasps from the supportive crowd here at TD Centre Arena .
“Mostly that funny grin was because of the couple of trips in the program that felt like they came out of nowhere, but I was just so happy to finish my program and it was almost a feeling of relief more than anything,” said a still smiling Osmond backstage.
“I have a little bit of mixed emotions. I definitely wish I had done a better program. Missing the (triple) loop and the flip are really stupid mistakes for me. They’re the most consistent jumps in practice, so I’m really upset about that, but I’m really glad I improved a lot of things in the program.
“But getting my title back is incredible right now,” added Osmond, who won the crown in 2013 and ’14 before being sidelined by a broken leg.
The Marystown native had a six-point cushion over her nearest challenger coming into the Saturday final thanks to Friday’s superlative short program. When her 138.67 long program score was added to the 81.01 from the opener, Osmond amassed an impressive 219.66 points in all.
Her scores are the highest ever earned by a Canadian woman, helping to erase the disappointment of her third place result last year in her comeback from injury.
Gabby Daleman, the 2015 Canadian titleholder, took the silver medal with a total of 211.09, collecting 136.05 for her hard-fought skate to the Gershwin classic “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Defending champ Alaine Chartrand, skating on an injured ankle, made several small errors and settled for bronze on 182.07.
Osmond opened her balletic La Boheme program with a series of three solid and soaring triple jumps and she finished strongly with crowd-pleasing footwork and a combination spin.
“The opening was the strongest I’ve done all year - three jumps back to back - so now it’s just to get the rest of the program together,” Osmond said, assessing Saturday’s performance as a step up from last month at the prestigious Grand Prix Final in France where she finished fourth among the top six women in the world.
In the weeks following that competition, Osmond fine-tuned her free program with direction from Olympic bronze medallist Jeff Buttle who traveled to her training site in Edmonton to polish the choreography set to Puccini’s familiar composition.
The balletic movement in the program is a departure for Osmond who has favoured quick and powerful steps in the past.
“Jeff helped me figure out the arm movements, how to skate the program with the feeling I wanted to show. It’s a love story and I want them to feel the heartache and the butterflies and everything you feel when you’re falling in love.
“It’s a ballet, and to be that graceful I didn’t think was going to be that difficult. I’m happy Jeff was able to help me figure it out a little bit more.”
The Canadian championship medallists now turn their focus to taking on the elite from Asia and the U.S. at the ISU Four Continents Championship in Korea in February. That event takes place in the venue where the 2018 Olympic figure skating events will be contested.
In late March, Osmond and Daleman will travel to the world championships in Helsinki. Earning a medal in Helsinki would be the perfect way to bookend Osmond’s stellar 2016-17 campaign which launched in Finland with a gold medal win.
“It was such a comfortable feeling; I felt just like I was competing at home when I was in Finland. So, I’m excited to go back and skate another clean short program and, hopefully, get those last two triples down because they’re driving me crazy now,” said Osmond, who ranked eighth (2013) and 11th (2014) in her previous trips to the worlds.
Over the next two months on two different continents, Osmond will see if the momentum she has been building throughout the season can lift her onto two more podiums and into the conversation as a leading contender for an Olympic medal.