It was well into the evening Tuesday, even in Edmonton, and Natasha Osmond was staring at the television screen and speaking words of encouragement.
There was nobody else in the room, just the way Natasha wanted it as her younger sister calmly and unfailingly delivered a brilliant skate in the women’s figure skating short program at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
“I know what she can do,” Natasha said of her little sis, Kaetlyn Osmond, younger by two years and a bit, “and I know how good she can be when she’s at her best.
“But I’m still on pins and needles. The whole program, I’m talking, but not to myself. I’m talking to her. ‘OK, breathe. Calm down. You know what you have to do. OK, you know what jump is next.’”
Natasha and Kaetlyn Osmond aren’t just sisters. They’re best friends. Soulmates.
“I know what (Kaetlyn) can do and I know how good she can be when she’s at her best. But I’m still on pins and needles. The whole program, I’m talking, but not to myself. I’m talking to her.”
Heck, they even suffer the same injuries, part of the reason why Natasha isn’t in South Korea watching Kaetlyn skate for her first women’s singles Olympic medal.
“I broke my ankle in November,” Natasha said. “I slipped getting out of the truck. It’s a similar fracture to Kaetlyn’s … same foot and everything (Kaetlyn suffered her injury in 2014 and missed the following skating season).
“I was going to PyeongChang, but with all the walking, not to mention a 14-hour flight, I decided against it. I’m glad, too. Talking to Mom and Dad, they’re walking about 20,000 steps a day, a 30-minute walk here, 60-minute walk there.”
Natasha Osmond has an idea of what Kaetlyn is going through. She sees it every day in Edmonton, where the girls have lived since they were 10 and 12 (they actually moved from their native Marystown to Montreal when they were eight and 10), and Natasha’s been down the competitive figure skating road.
Natasha was a fine skater in her own right, winning provincial titles in various age groups, and representing the province at the Atlantics and nationals.
At the 2007 Canada Winter Games in the Yukon, the two were part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s team. Kaetlyn won a bronze medal in pre-novice singles in Whitehorse, a year after winning the juvenile title at the BMO Skate Canada national junior championship. Natasha finished fourth in novice singles at the Games.
“Yes,” she jokes, “the glorious fourth-place finish. That was my signature placing.”
Kaetlyn was 11 at the time, Natasha 14. Three years later, Natasha was done with skating.
“I didn’t miss it,” she said. “I was done. When I finished, I was content with my decision.
“I had a knee injury when I was 12, and it never did let up. I guess I was just fed up with the physio and what-not. I’d had enough.”
And that, Natasha said, is exactly why she admires her sister so much.
“She dearly loves it,” she said of Kaetlyn. “It shows in her face every time she skates.
“I mean, I’m still limping after my break, but she was back on the ice in only nine weeks. I can’t imagine that.”
Throughout her career, Natasha was the rare skater who competed in singles, pairs and dance. She, too, loved the sport as much as life itself, but eventually chose to move on. Today, she and boyfriend Wade Norman of St. Lawrence (yes, he played a bit of soccer growing up) have a three-year-old son, Owen (she missed the 2014 Olympics because she was pregnant), and she loves her career as a welding inspector, though the injury has regrettably kept her from being out in the field lately.
“People don’t realize that you have to literally put your whole life and soul into skating,” she said. “Kaetlyn is up and gone to the rink at 6 a.m. and she doesn’t get home until 6 p.m. It’s full time, every day for five days. And she’s not out clubbing on the weekends, like most 22-year-olds. She’s getting her rest, recovering, getting physio and massage.
“And she starts back at it again Monday morning. It’s takes a special athlete and a special person.
“Me, I’m very satisfied. I enjoyed skating, and enjoyed the success I had. But I went to school, and started a family, and I wouldn’t change that, not in a million years.
“Now I love watching Kaetlyn skate. If only it wasn’t so stressful.”
Tonight she will watch her sister’s long program from the Terwillegar Arena in Edmonton, the place where she was groomed to be an Olympian. The city is throwing a viewing party at the rink for their favourite adopted daughter.
“She’s exactly where she wants to be,” Natasha said of Kaetlyn, who is comfortably in third position behind a pair of Russians. “If she does what she can do, what I know she can do, she has a very, very good chance at a medal.”