Kaetlyn Osmond wins gold at Skate Canada

Kaetlyn Osmond (Reuters files)

Kaetlyn Osmond (Reuters files)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:27 PM ET

WINDSOR, ONT. - Kaetlyn Osmond fended off a charge from a veteran reigning world bronze medalist.

Then, she stood at the top of the Skate Canada Interational podium, received flowers and kudos from Elizabeth Manley, heard the national anthem, saw the bright TV lights and had microphones and tape recorders stuck in front of her face.

“It's all new to me,” the 16-year-old Newfoundland native living in Sherwood Park, Alta., said with a smile, “but I could definitely get used to this.”

This was the newly-minted Canadian figure skating star's first senior Grand Prix event.

She didn't just ease into it, get the feel of the WFCU Centre ice, drink in the WFCU Centre atmosphere and bank the memories for potential future opportunties.

She won.

And now, she wants more.

The feeling, incidentally, is completely mutual.

“I really want a second Grand Prix but as far as I know, that isn't going to happen,” she said with a laugh. “If there's a withdrawal or something like that (and she can go), I'd be really excited.”

There's only six stops on the ISU's top circuit. Skate Canada assigned her to Windsor as her one and only this season.

It was generally accepted she was talented and had a lot of promise, but no one wanted to give her too much on her plate, too soon.

She went out and finished second in the short program Friday and then second again in the long with a 115.89-point skate to – what else – a Carmen theme. It was more than enough for first with a 176.45 combined score.

“It puts so much more thoughts in your head and it gives you so much more confidence,” she said. “Both skates could've been better, but I'm completely happy with what happened.”

So, too, is Skate Canada, always on the lookout for the next women's star.

The wide-eyed Grade 12 student at a sports-focused school in Edmonton ate up the pressure, out-skated quality veterans like Japan's Akiko Suzuki, left last year's champ – 15-year-old Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – in the rear-view mirror and finished 25 points ahead of defending Canadian champion Amelie Lacoste.

She became the first Canadian to win the home country event since Joannie Rochette went back-to-back in 2008-09 at Ottawa and Kitchener.

It's not fair to say Osmond came out of nowhere.

She won the short program at Canadians last January, and finished in third.

She captured the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany last month.

“This is a little more shocking (than Nebelhorn),” she said. “This is my first Grand Prix event and I finished ninth or 10th in junior (events in the past), so it's extraordinary.”

She will head to nationals again at Mississauga in January as the favourite. If she wins, she will get Canada's one and only women's shot at the worlds in London, Ont., in March.

“We want the best skaters there (at worlds),” Skate Canada high-performance director Michael Slipchuk said. “If it happens, she's not going in green with no experience.”

Another Grand Prix event now would help, but she's not holding her breath.

She has the Skate Canada challenge event at Regina in December lined up before nationals.

“My skating's matured over the last year and everything's been coming together more,” Osmond said.

She got her start in Marystown, Nfld., where “the arena only ran during the winter and the pool only ran in the summer.”

So her parents drove her to St. John's – three hours away – to skate in the summer, then moved to Montreal, and now, she trains in Edmonton with coach Ravi Walia.

Her Olympic dreams followed her across the country – from child to teenager.

“Of course,” she said. “It was always there – just not as loud.”

She just cranked up the volume as high as it goes.

SELECT COMPANY

(16-year-old Kaetlyn Osmond became the eighth Canadian women to win the ladies discipline at Skate Canada International Saturday at the WFCU Centre in Windsor. Here are the others).

Joannie Rochette (2006, '08, '09)

Cynthia Phaneuf (2004)

Josee Chouinard (1990)

Elizabeth Manley (1986)

Tracey Wainman (1981)

Kim Alletson (1976)

Lynn Nightingale (1973, '74)

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca


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