By Laurie Nealin
Special to The Telegram
Vancouver — If Kaetlyn Osmond is to win a fourth Canadian figure skating crown this week, she’ll have to come from behind to do it.
The pride of Marystown crashed on the front end of her opening triple-triple jump combo during het short program today. It was a costly mistake after her archrival Gabby Daleman had just earned a standing ovation for her near flawless skate minutes earlier.
Despite rallying to complete another two-jump combination — albeit a lower-scoring one — and going clean the rest of the way, Osmond settled for 71.41 points, more than six back of Daleman’s 77.88.
“Really frustrating” is how Osmond described her reaction to the uncharacteristic miss on her signature high-scoring element. It was not the performance she imagined as she looks to punch her ticket this weekend for the fast-approaching Olympic Games in South Korea.
“Obviously, I’m not overly pleased with it. I don’t remember the last time I missed the flip-toe in a competition,” the defending champ said.
“It was a random mistake. I felt really comfortable. I was feeling confident. I did feel the nerves, but no more than I usually do in competition. I felt ready to compete and maybe I was just a little too ready for the first jump.”
While Osmond’s Sous le ciel de Paris opener did not go as planned, Daleman hit all the right notes in her sassy rendition of Carmen at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena on the UBC campus.
“Obviously, I’m not overly pleased with it. I don’t remember the last time I missed the flip-toe in a competition. It was a random mistake. I felt really comfortable. I was feeling confident. I did feel the nerves, but no more than I usually do in competition. I felt ready to compete and maybe I was just a little too ready for the first jump.”
Despite battling a lingering respiratory illness, the Torontonian sailed through her high-flying triple-triple combo to open.
“I was flirting my butt off to those judges and I had a blast.
“Honestly, it’s one of the best skates I’ve ever had,” added Daleman who hopes to celebrate her 20th birthday Saturday with a second national title. Her first came in 2015 when Osmond was sidelined with injury.
Osmond, who won twice on the ISU Grand Prix circuit this past fall, noted this will be the first time this season that she has not taken the lead in the opening round.
“I’m really motivated to skate a clean long program and put out as much as I possibly can,” she said.
Osmond and Daleman announced to the world last year that they were forces to be reckoned with as they claimed the silver and bronze medals, respectively, at the world championships in Helsinki.
Saturday’s finale will be a head-to-head battle between the two given Sarah Tamura, of B.C., who is in third place, sits 17 points back of Osmond.
Osmond, 22, headed into these Canadian championships — the final tune-up before the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea — feeling “very excited and really confident.”
Ahead of the competition, she spent several days at her training rink in Edmonton working with Jeff Buttle to fine-tune the choreography of her Swan Lake program that she’ll perform Saturday.
On Sunday, Canada’s Olympic figure skating team will officially be announced. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Osmond and Daleman would not be named to two of the three women’s spots available on the Canadian team. The third is up for grabs.
Osmond recalls that the lead-up to the 2014 Sochi Games felt completely different than this 2018 Olympic season. Hampered by injury during that season four years ago, she came away from her first Olympic experience with a team silver medal and a 13th place finish in her individual event.
“Having the world silver medal last year and being an (Olympic) medal contender this year is definitely in the back of my head and it’s very exciting.
“But, I also have three full seasons of training without injury and that’s been the biggest thing for me -- training and being able to compete,” said Osmond who missed the 2014-15 season entirely after breaking her leg in practice.
“Going into the Olympics with all of that gives me a lot more confidence.”