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Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins gold at Skate Canada

Kaetlyn Osmond barely stopped smiling as she signed autographs, posed for pictures, and talked to reporters Saturday.

The Canadian teenager found herself in the spotlight after capturing gold at Skate Canada International in her first-ever Grand Prix appearance — and she didn’t mind it at all.

“Not used to it. But definitely could get used to it,” she said laughing.

The 16-year-old from Marystown, N.L., was virtually unknown before she won a surprise bronze at the Canadian championships last winter. Saturday, she fell once on her triple Lutz but skated an otherwise strong program to Carmen to win gold among a world-class field.

It was a good start to the day for the Canadian team, as Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won silver in the pairs. Patrick Chan and ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated their free programs later Saturday.

Osmond, looking older than her years in red dress and dark red lipstick, scored 115.89 for her Carmen rendition, and 176.45 overall. Reigning world bronze medallist Akiko Suzuki was second with 175.16, while Japanese teammate Kanako Murakami was third with 168.04.

Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia, the leader after Friday’s short program, had an error-filled long program to fall to fifth. Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., finished eighth.

Osmond grew up in Marystown — population just over 5,000 — but by the age of six was already travelling to Montreal in the summers to train.

“It was definitely a town where not many people lived and there was one rink that was only open in the winter, and a pool that was only open in the summer,” Osmond said.

Barely on the radar

She moved to Edmonton when she was 10 after her parents got jobs there.

At this time last year she was barely on Skate Canada’s radar. She’d finished ninth and 10th in her first junior Grand Prix events and had been battling an injury.

But she saw the possibilities and buckled down in her training, hiring a personal trainer and dietician. She began last season with just two triple jumps in her arsenal, but by the end had mastered almost all of them.

“I think most of it is my body maturing,” Osmond said. “Everything has just been coming together a lot more. But I’ve also been putting a lot more effort into it.”

After her bronze at the Canadian championships in Moncton, N.B., where she won the short program and landed the only clean triple-triple combination, Osmond opened this season with a victory at the Nebelhorn Trophy last month.

Because of her world ranking from last year — in the mid-40s — Osmond isn’t entered in another Grand Prix this season. She still has a good shot at making Canada’s team for the world championships in London, Ont., in March.

Her recent performances also have Osmond dreaming about the Sochi Olympics.

“It definitely starts putting a whole bunch of thoughts in your head,” Osmond said. “It just gains you so much more confidence, and a better knowing of what you can do on the ice, how much it can lead you to.

“[The thoughts] have always been there, just not as loud.”

Canada hasn’t had a woman win at Skate Canada since Olympic bronze medallist Joannie Rochette skated to gold in 2009. Her coach Ravi Walia knows hopes are high for a world-class Canadian female, but believes Osmond can handle any pressure that comes her way.

“We’ve talked about that,” Walia said. “She’s still the same skater. It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks she should be doing, it’s what her and I think she should be doing.”

‘Really inspired’

Duhamel and Radford were just walking into the WFCU Centre when Osmond’s medal ceremony was beginning.

“We felt really inspired,” Duhamel said. “We watched the medal ceremony, and we were so proud of her and proud of Canadian skating so I think that gave us a little boost.”

Skating to music from the British movie “Angel,” Duhamel, from Lively, Ont., and Toronto’s Radford scored 126.00 points for their free program and 190.49 points overall.

“Last year when we skated our very best, we barely got 120 [for the free program], and now we didn’t skate our very best, it was still good, and we’re at 126,” Duhamel said. “We’re very excited to see where this season takes us, and that will be to the podium in London.”

The Canadians finished behind four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who scored 201.36 in a program that was more memorable for its costumes than the lifts and spins.

Skating to “Bolero,” made famous by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, the Germans wore multicoloured bodysuits — they looked as if someone had tossed cans of red, yellow and black paint at them, like something you’d find at a modern art exhibit.

“It’s not my favourite style but to be honest, I know we are figure skaters so we have to wear something that is in a way comfortable and wear suits like this that I would not go out [wearing],” Szolkowy said. “If it fits the music and Aliona’s costume, and everybody is talking about us, it’s OK.”

Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek won the bronze with 172.03.

Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers of Brandon, Man., were fourth.

CBC | Sports News