By Laurie Nealin
Special to The Telegram-Vancouver
Thwarted by what she described as “silly mistakes,” Kaetlyn Osmond handed her Canadian figure skating crown back to archrival Gabby Daleman, who celebrated her 20th birthday in style on Saturday with a splendid gold medal performance.
It was Daleman’s second national win. She first claimed the title in 2015 when Osmond was sidelined with injury.
The Marystown native came into the finale six points back of Daleman after missing her triple-triple combo in the opener. Miscues today on three jumps in her superbly choreographed Swan Lake program made a come-from-behind victory impossible, especially when Daleman performed without any major flaws.
Osmond earned 147.32 for her free skate for a total of 218.73, while Daleman put up 151.90 and 229.78 all told.
Larkyn Austman, of B.C., ranked third with 169.62 points, almost 50 back of Osmond.
While Daleman, of Toronto, hit every one of her jumps cleanly in her Rhapsody in Blue program, Osmond staggered out of a triple loop before falling on her next jump -- a triple flip.
The three-time Canadian champ opened with an impressive triple flip-triple toe jump combination -- the element she fell on a day earlier. A solid double Axel-triple toe combo and triple lutz followed, but she ran into trouble after that.
“They were silly mistakes --ones that I don’t usually make. I’ve been working on them (the jumps) so hard at home. So I am frustrated I can’t bring that into the competition side,” said Osmond, 22.
“But, overall, I’m really happy with the performance. I feel I performed that program as best that I could. It’s probably my strongest freeskate this year. And, it just feels like a step in the right direction.
“At the end of my program I felt super strong, super powerful. Now I just have to transfer the rest (the jumps) in,” she added.
Daleman, on the other hand, delivered when it mattered most.
“Not only did I go out and skate two clean programs, I have my national title back. I have a new Canadian record and, most importantly, it’s on my birthday in front of my home country that’s so near and dear to my heart, so it means the absolute world to me,” Daleman said.
“It didn’t matter at the end of the day about the score. Kaetlyn’s such a strong competitor. I saw her scores, saw the standing ovation and like she said at worlds, (when you follow a strong performance) it makes you want it that much more.
“After I skated that program, I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I said yesterday, ‘that’s the way to end 19.’ So, today this is the way to start 20. It’s the absolute best birthday present I could ever ask for,” a beaming Daleman added.
With the team event at the Olympic Games in South Korea beginning February 8, Osmond said she will use what happened this weekend at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Arena as motivation.
“Going in (to the Olympics) as not the national champion is almost going to give me an extra boost to make up for the mistakes I made here,” Osmond said.
“But knowing I still have the world silver medal under my belt makes me feel really confident, makes me feel that I have the audience behind me, and I feel really strong. Hopefully, that will just motivate me and the frustrations I have here will push me through the next month.”
Osmond and Daleman made history last season when they both pocketed medals - silver and bronze, respectively - at the world championships in Helsinki. Their double success marked the first time two Canadian women had landed on the world podium in the same year.
These Canadian championships mark the final competitive tune-up for the country’s elite figure skaters ahead of the Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea .
Canada’s Olympic figure skating team will officially be announced on Sunday. With 17 athletes eligible to go, it will be the largest team that any country qualified for the Games.
Osmond and Daleman are shoe-ins for two of the three women’s spots available. Who the third woman will be is anyone’s guess.
Austman will not necessarily make the trip to South Korea given her lack of international competition experience. A committee will review past results of the rest of the field to decide who is most deserving of the third Olympic berth, but no woman is an obvious choice.
At the 2014 Sochi Games, Osmond helped Canada win the team silver medal. In individual competition, Osmond finished 13th.