By Laurie Nealin
Special to The Telegram-Regina, Sask.
Kaetlyn Osmond dazzled at Skate Canada International Friday with a near flawless short program that brought a satisfied smile to her face, and the audience to its feet.
The Marystown native skated last in the talent-laden, 12-woman field and left no doubt she skated best.
Osmond scored 76.06 points - seven points clear of the field - for her celebrated Edith Piaf routine that she reprised for her Olympic campaign.
The three-time national champion delighted the sparse Brandt Centre crowd - and the judges - with her superb interpretation of Sous le ciel de Paris and Milord sung by the French chanteuse.
“I felt super confident when I stepped on the ice,” Osmond said.
“This program is so fun … the last bit of the program when everyone starts clapping is the celebration of the short. It’s really exciting to do that footwork sequence when I have the crowd’s reaction.”
Russian Anna Pogorilaya, the 2016 world bronze medallist, and her teammate, Maria Sotskova, claimed second and third on the leader board with 69.05 and 66.1 points, respectively.
Coming off her silver medal win at the world figure skating championships in Helsinki last March, Osmond continues to build momentum towards the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
“I was very happy with how I skated. I’ve been training this program really well on most days so I really just wanted to skate another great program and get another clean run-through done, keeping it one thing at a time and I think that’s what I feel I did really well today, keeping it one element at a time.”
Although Osmond says she doesn’t pay much attention to her scores, she noted, “It’s the first time I got above 75, and I got that a few times last year so I was excited to get above that little hump.”
Her goal again this season is to continue posting personal bests every time out.
Over the summer, Osmond had actually worked on a new short program set to the bluesy Summertime. She even competed with it twice, but that was just her coach Ravi Walia’s interim plan to ensure the Piaf piece would be fresh when the Olympic season began in earnest.
“It (Piaf) was such a strong, confident and comfortable program for me, and that’s what I needed this year is to feel strong and confident in both of my programs so we can ensure I have strong skates all year,” Osmond explained.
Osmond, who turns 22 in December, plays her own game. She has never been one to dwell on what her competitors are doing, even when facing a deep field like the one here at Skate Canada.
“Each competitor is strong in their own way. It’s the Olympic year. I’m expecting a lot of people to be at their absolute best. For me to be able to compete against that, it doesn’t mean that I dwell on what they’re doing. It means I push to do the best I can do... and see if that can measure up.”
Although not obvious to the casual onlooker, Osmond said there is still much she wants to improve in her program.
“My flow out of my jumps probably wasn’t as strong as they normally are, especially on the Axel. I was a little off in the air, and I just found out I got a level 3 (instead of a four difficulty level) on my footwork which I’m not really happy about,” she said, laughing.
The free skate final goes Saturday when Osmond will showcase her new Black Swan program set to music from both the movie and Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Osmond won Skate Canada back in 2012 at age 16. A year ago in Mississauga, she ranked second to the now twice world champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia.
Skate Canada is one of six Grand Prix events also held in Russia, China, Japan, France and United States. Competitors are awarded points based on their results in two assigned events with the top six performers in each discipline qualifying for the Grand Prix Final, in Nagoya, Japan in December.