Just as Kaetlyn Osmond was about to make her way to the world figure skating championships in Helsinki – only her third – the value of silver, down in the doldrums on world markets, began to pick up. The ticker tapes of the world began to spin in the right direction.
It’s good news for Osmond, who has earned buckets full of silver medals this season, none as spectacular as the silver medal she earned at the world championships.
Osmond, 21, started the season at Finlandia Trophy with a gold medal, defeating Mao Asada and world bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya.
A short time later, she won a silver medal at the Skate Canada International, behind only world champ Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia.
Cup of China was next. Silver again, just behind Elena Radionova of Russian. Osmond had won the short program, and finished third in the free.
Grand Prix Final? Osmond was the first Canadian woman to qualify for it since Joanne Rochette in 2009. Osmond finished second in the short program, but fourth in the free, for fourth overall. She was not now going toe to toe with the best six skaters in the world. Behind her after the short program were world medalists from Japan,( Satoko Miyahara) and three other talented Russians. All season long, Osmond was able to spar very well with the tops in her discipline.
Four Continents was an unfortunate hiccup on Osmond’s journey. She says she tries to forget that one. Just as well.
And of course at the world championships, Osmond sped to second place behind only Medvedeva, after finishing second in both the short and the long.
Going into this world championship, Osmond was not thinking about winning a medal or about where she would place at all, despite her successful season. “I was going into worlds thinking I finally wanted to feel proud of how I skated,” she said. “I have had a season of highs all year, so when I went into worlds, I just wanted to end on that same feeling and to feel the best I had felt all season.”
Don’t forget, it’s the first time Osmond got to experience a full season. That idea excited her. She just wanted to feel proud. When she skated the way she hoped and it meant she won a silver medal, Osmond said: “Honestly, it still doesn’t feel believable.”
What is real is hard to explain. Her silver medal is entirely motivating for anything she does from now on. “After I broke my leg, I thought my career was done,” she said. “And the competitions that came afterwards, didn’t go well. It put so much doubt in my head. And I questioned that I would never be able to perform at my best ever again. I hated going home from competitions, feeling like I didn’t compete.
“And I felt lost every time. So this season, each time I went out and skated, I forgot about the feeling that I wanted to find and just focused on finding the love of the sport again. And each time I went out there, that’s what I felt. I felt like that empty piece of me kept getting filled up and filled up. And at the end of my long program [in Helsinki], it was finally like I felt full again.”
She can’t explain the feeling at the moment in which she took her final pose in the free skate. “I just felt like a full human being again,” she said. “It’s something I never realized I felt so lost before that.”
Her silver medal will probably find its way into a case at home full of her other silver medals she won during the season. Aside from an Olympic team silver medal, Osmond hadn’t won silver medals before, she said. “I think I’ll have a box of silvers,” she said. Right now, the shiny world medal is in Newfoundland, her home spot.
One of the first things that Osmond did when she returned to Canada was to return to Newfoundland. She’s lived near Edmonton since she was 10 years old, but the home province is dear to her heart. She hadn’t been to Newfoundland in a year. And she hadn’t been to her hometown of Marystown (population 5,500) in four years, when she was feted for winning her first of three Canadian titles.
Marystown did it up big that day. She rode a red convertible into town, waving all the way. There was no shortage of “Welcome Home, Kaetlyn,” signs. “I wanna be just like Kaeltyn Osmond,” said a young girl’s placard, from her perch in another car. Osmond spoke and spoke. Signed autographs, Posed for photos. Got to take home a quilt. Marystown renamed their rink the “Kaetlyn Osmond Arena.” The town named a street after her.
“Even since post-Olympics, I hadn’t been back,” she said. “For me to get a chance to go home, that was the biggest thing. I have so many supporters in Newfoundland, and so many friends and they’ve kept me going through numerous, numerous things, so it was a chance for me to see them and to hear their stories and for me to share my own.”
Osmond made a trip to the Children’s Hospital, too. “It was a really humbling experience,” said the athlete who has endured a shopping list of injuries, some that could have ended her career. “It reminded me of when I was in the hospital. And seeing so many kids go through way worse things than I was dealing with, was inspiring.”
Osmond has clearly been a star on the Stars On Ice tour this season. And she has easily stepped into that role. With a swish of newly blond-tipped hair, Osmond was spellbinding as she skated to Tori Kelly’s “Hallelujah.” She just looked different, all told. Bigger. More commanding. Soft as she needed to be. Mischievous as she chose in “I Love It.”
“The group numbers are so much fun,” she said. “I love Jeff [Buttle]’s choreography. There’s a reason I go back to him every year now for my long program. [This past season, Buttle choreographed her La Boheme free skate and he’s done exhibition routines for her in the past].
“He’s so much fun and his choreography is crazy hard. But it brings out a different side of me each time and it makes me learn new things. So I love it. Being able to do this tour and perform, it’s why I started skating. And it brings me back to my love of skating every time.”
Osmond was also part of the tribute routine to Jeff Billing, the talented costume designer and director for Stars on Ice for many years before he died last September of natural causes at age 71. If there was a number that pulled at heartstrings in the show, this was it. “It was really heartfelt,” she said. She knew Billings from two previous tours with Stars on Ice.
Before she went on tour, Osmond already completed her routines for the Olympic season. She’s staying mum for the moment on the music being used, but she will say they are programs that are very different from the past season. “There’s two pieces of music that I absolutely love,” she said. “My long program is something that I wanted to do for years and years and years and years and years. So I’m really excited for it.”
Lance Vipond has choreographed her short program for the coming season – always her mainstay in the past – and Buttle did her long program. “The choreography is very different from one to the other,” Osmond said. “But I love them.”
Of course, it means that she will leave behind her short program routine to Edith Piaf, singing “Sous le Ciel de Paris,” and “Milord,” but even though it served her extremely well all season, and it gave her a feeling of strength, Osmond is happy to get it go.
“I can tell you right now, if I did my short next year, it wouldn’t look the same,” she said. “I love the challenge of having a new character. And even though some people see my program about eight times a year at competition, I hear it about 15 times a day. You are really looking forward to not having that any more.
“Time to get annoyed by a new program.”