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Kaetlyn Osmond looks to build on momentum she's generated

Canadian Press file photo/Mark Blinch — In this Oct. 30, 2016 file photo, Kaetlyn Osmond performs during the Skate Canada International exhibition gala in Mississauga, Ont., after winning a silver medal at the event. The 21-year-old from Marystown who would go finish second at the 2017 world figure skating championship, helping establish her as a serious medal contender for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Osmond can further solidify that status at this year’s Skate Canada International, which begins Friday in Regina.
Canadian Press file photo/Mark Blinch — In this Oct. 30, 2016 file photo, Kaetlyn Osmond performs during the Skate Canada International exhibition gala in Mississauga, Ont., after winning a silver medal at the event. The 21-year-old from Marystown who would go finish second at the 2017 world figure skating championship, helping establish her as a serious medal contender for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Osmond can further solidify that status at this year’s Skate Canada International, which begins Friday in Regina.

Marystown native has had an impressive 12 months, beginning with 2016 Skate Canada International. Now, she's among the headliners at this year’s event in Regina

By Laurie Nealin

Special to The Telegram—Regina

Kaetlyn Osmond is already in the Olympic medal conversation as the 100-day countdown to the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea draws near.

The 21-year-old Marystown native assured her contender status with an impressive silver-medal win at the world figure skating championships in Helsinki last March.

This weekend in Regina, Canada’s three-time national champion can build on her credentials with a victory over a talent-laden field at Skate Canada International, the second stop on the ISU Grand Prix circuit.

“It doesn’t matter about the world rankings and placings last season. I just want to go in and compete and try to get another really good season done,” Osmond said before heading to Saskatchewan from her home base in Edmonton.

“It definitely helps having a bit of motivation from last year and a second place at worlds, but in an Olympic year, anything can happen,” added Osmond, who finished 13th at the Sochi Games in 2014, but gleaned silver in the team event.

Eight years ago, ahead of the 2010 Olympic Games, fellow Canadian Joannie Rochette was in the same position as Osmond is now. She owned multiple national titles, had already competed in an Olympic Games, ranked fourth at the prestigious Grand Prix Final the season prior and claimed silver at the pre-Olympic world championships.  

Like Osmond, she had trained with the same coach for over 10 years.

Rochette, who garnered Olympic bronze for Canada on home ice in Vancouver, knows well what Osmond can expect as she navigates the Olympic season as a genuine podium contender.

“It adds some pressure but, at the same time, I think it’s a perfect position to go to the Olympics. It’s exciting to know you have a shot at a medal,” said Rochette, now 31 and in her second year of medical school at Montreal’s McGill University. 

She encourages Osmond and teammate Gabby Daleman, who claimed bronze at the 2017 worlds, to embrace the fact he world considers them serious contenders for the Olympic podium.

“Just that alone should feel great. They just need to train hard and see what happens. The Olympics are very unpredictable, but to be on the short list of skaters who can make it is already pretty amazing,” Rochette advised.

She’s very real. What you see on the ice is pretty much who she is as a person, almost like Kurt Browning. You feel like you know him through his performances, and Kaetlyn’s very similar.”

Former Canadian champion Joannie Rochette on Kaetlyn Osmond

 

Osmond, who turns 22 in December, said her big goal last year was to make sure that at each competition she performed better than her last time out. She credits that approach with her success in earning new personal best scores almost every time she competed and will stick with that winning formula this Olympic season.

Last month, Osmond won Autumn Classic, an international warm-up competition in Montreal. She skated a clean short program and landed seven triple jumps in her new Black Swan free skate, something she must do to stay on pace technically with the best in the world.

“Since Autumn Classic, I’ve been working on getting my stamina and speed even better,” said Osmond, who reprised last season’s acclaimed Edith Piaf short program for her Olympic campaign.

Rochette got to know Osmond from their time together on cross-Canada Stars on Ice tours and admires her, “joie de vivre.”

“When she skates,” Rochette said, “you can sense how much she loves to skate. She’s very generous with the audience … making eye contact and projecting to the audience. You can feel that. That’s very important also when skating in a competition.

“She’s very real. What you see on the ice is pretty much who she is as a person, almost like Kurt Browning. You feel like you know him through his performances, and Kaetlyn’s very similar.”

Osmond, a natural performer whose routines score high on the artistic side, actually won Skate Canada back in 2012 at age 16. Injury forced her to withdraw from the event the two years following.

A year ago in Mississauga, Ont., she ranked second to Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia, now twice world champion.

This time around, Skate Canada features at least six women who are capable of taking the title, including Ashley Wagner of the U.S., and Russian Anna Pogorilaya, the 2016 world silver and bronze medallists, respectively.

Marin Honda, 16, the 2016 world junior champ from Japan, is another skater to watch as she debuts on the senior Grand Prix circuit.

“Going into Skate Canada, I know it’s a tough field but everything this year’s going to be tough, so I just have to be on top of myself,” Osmond said.

The first rounds of competition for all disciplines are Friday, with the finals on Saturday.

 

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Regina competition features Canadian world champs galore

Kaetlyn Osmond’s fellow Canadian champions, who also happen to be multiple world champions, will compete at Skate Canada this weekend in Regina.

Patrick Chan, world champion from 2011 to 2013 and the 2014 Olympic silver medallist, is among the frontrunners in the men’s event, while reigning triple world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are heavily favoured to win the ice dance title.

Virtue and Moir are the 2010 Olympic champions, who also won silver in 2014. The couple went undefeated last season when they returned to competition after a two-year hiatus, intent on winning gold again in 2018.

In Regina, Chan and Virtue and Moir could snag their seventh Skate Canada titles.

Meanwhile, two-time world pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford will face stiff competition from German and French duos to win their fourth Skate Canada title.

Competitors in each of the six Grand Prix events — in Russia, Canada, China, Japan, France and United States — are awarded points based on their results in two assigned events. The top six performers in each discipline qualify for the Grand Prix Final, in Nagoya, Japan in December.

That event takes on added significance in the Olympic season as the top contenders jockey for position in their final match-up ahead of the Pyeongchang Games in February.

 

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