Gabby Daleman taking no prisoners

VANCOUVER

Forget the strep throat, the pneumonia, and all of the inflictions that have ever encroached upon Gabby Daleman’s life.

The 19-year-old (she’ll be 20 on Sunday), powered her way through the women’s short program at the National Skating Championships on Friday, defying all of it, facing it squarely with her brown eyes. And she’s in the lead. A big lead.

She earned 77.88 points (her personal best score internationally is 73), well ahead of Kaetlyn Osmond, who fell on a triple flip. Well, this was to be her triple-triple combination. Osmond, who had the presence of mind to add a double toe loop to her next jump, a triple Lutz and salvaged 71.41 points, 6.37 points behind the high-flying Daleman.

Daleman didn’t find out until yesterday that she had pneumonia. She had strep throat before Christmas, and it supposedly had abated by last week. Her sports psychologist, Judy Goss, had told her that it was better to suffer from it well before the national championships, than during it. This week, Daleman quipped: “Well this back-fired on us.”

Daleman said she knew something was wrong yesterday after practice when she felt she could not breathe. A team doctor diagnosed pneumonia and gave her antiobiotics and an inhaler.

Her friends asked her how she was going to be able to skate. Daleman, in usual form, texted back with emojis, joking that it was actually extra cardio training.

“If I can do this feeling this crappy, I can do anything,” she said.

Before Daleman skated, she disappeared in the bowels of the rink. Her coaches could not find her. “I had to be on my own,” she said.

“We thought we’d lost you,” they told her.

The marks flashed up on the rink board well before Daleman saw them. Her parents and family did and started to celebrate, then stopped, realizing that she didn’t know.

Daleman breezed off the ice like a hurricane. “Honestly,that felt unbelievably amazing,” she said. “After I came off the ice, I said to my coach: ‘That’s how I want to end 19. Last program. Last teenager. New program. Super excited.”

Daleman had shown up with a new costume, new hairstyle, new makeup, even some new choreography to spice up her sassy
Carmen routine, make it more playful to the judges. “I know it sounds bad, but I was just flirting my butt off to those judges in that program and it was a blast.”

Osmond said she was not “overly pleased” with her mistake. “I don’t remember the last time I missed a flip-toe in competition,” she said. “Even since Grand Prix Final, I haven’t missed that jump once in my program.

It was really frustrating. I haven’t missed any of them in practice. So it was really frustrating not doing my first element.”

She said she feels very motivated for the free program tomorrow.

Sarah Tamura finished third, well behind with 54.34 points, while former Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand made mistakes on all jumping passes and is ninth. She seemed stunned afterward and hopes to roar back in the long.

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