Jeff and Jackie Osmond did their own version of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” Sunday and Monday in their haste to get back to Edmonton in time to meet their youngest daughter, the Olympic bronze medal figure skater, arrive home to a hero’s welcome.
Difference is, unlike the 1987 comedy starring Steve Martin and John Candy, there was nothing funny about this jaunt.
The Osmonds, who hail from Marystown, were in Gangneung, South Korea to see Kaetlyn Osmond, who was born in Marystown, but moved away at the age of eight, win the Olympic women’s figure skating bronze medal last week.
Osmond also earned a gold medal as part of the first-place Canadian squad in team competition.
The Osmond parents took the two-hour train ride from Gangneung to the airport in Seoul over the weekend for the 10-hour flight to Vancouver.
Problem is, snow hit the Vancouver area Friday, causing flight delays and cancellations. The result was the Osmonds had no connector to Edmonton Sunday, and with a backlog of flights, it wasn’t looking promising for getting home to see Kaetlyn arrive at 3 p.m. local time Monday.
Enter the third part of their journey, a 12-hour drive from Vancouver to Edmonton, with a short stop in Revelstoke, B.C.
They did get to Edmonton, with about 120 minutes to spare, in time to see Kaetlyn greeted by fans, fellow skaters and the media at Edmonton International Airport.
“I’m still riding a high,” Jeff Osmond said, “so I’m kind of waiting for it to settle down. I’m not sure if I realize it all now, it’s been such a whirlwind.”
The Osmonds hosted a party/gathering at their Edmonton condo for Kaetlyn, her friends and fellow skaters, her coaches and support team.
Medal aside, Jeff Osmond termed the PyeongChang Games an overwhelming experience, watching not just the skating but other sports such as hockey, speed skating and curling.
“I’m still riding a high, so I’m kind of waiting for it to settle down. I’m not sure if I realize it all now, it’s been such a whirlwind.”
The couple were on hand for the women’s gold-medal hockey game, which the U.S. won by shootout over Canada.
That was certainly a disappointment, but not their daughter’s bronze medal. Kaetlyn Osmond was third after the short program, and skated an equally outstanding long program to finish behind a pair of Russian skaters.
“We knew what she could do,” said Osmond, a project manager for WSP Canada, “and if she put it out there, we knew she had the potential to medal.
“Still, it’s a judge sport, so we were on the edge of our seats, hoping she’d pull it through.”
The Osmonds have certainly sacrificed for Kaetlyn and her older sister, Natasha, who was a competitive skater.
The girls were only eight and just-turned-11 when they moved to Montreal to live and train. At the time, Jeff was working overseas and Jackie wasn’t working. So they made the decision to move to Montreal and join the girls.
“It was easy in that there was nothing holding us in Marystown,” he said.
The family spent a couple of years in Montreal. Jeff was still travelling back and forth overseas, but Jackie was finding it difficult finding work because she didn’t speak French.
With friends and family living in Edmonton, they packed up again and headed west. Kaetlyn was 10 and Natasha 13.
While it’s safe to say Kaetlyn’s chances of rising to become one of the best figure skaters in the world were slim and none had she remained in Marystown, Jeff Osmond says Olympic medals weren’t on his nor his wife’s mind when they opted to move from Newfoundland.
“It was a sacrifice, but it was always worth it, medals or not,” he said. “We didn’t put them in the sport to win Olympic medals. We put them in the sport because they loved it and because it’s important to be active.
“The girls are set up for life with healthy bodies and healthy minds they got through skating. It wasn’t about getting to the Olympics. There are 500,000 kids in figure skating across the country, and only 17 go to the Olympics.”
Kaetlyn won’t have long to bask in the glow of her bronze medal. She’s back on the ice Thursday with the Ice Palace Figure Skating Club which operates out of the Terwillegar Arena and the West Edmonton Mall, preparing for the world championship March 19-25 in Milan, Italy.
She returns to Newfoundland in April, with shows planned in her hometown April 14 followed by Corner Brook on April 21 and Grand Falls-Windsor April 22.
Jeff Osmond said he and his wife are “99 per cent” sure they’ll be home in Marystown for what’s sure to be a big night at the Kaetlyn Osmond Arena.