By Laurie Nealin
Special to The Telegram
Kaetlyn Osmond flew on the wings of her Black Swan program Saturday to claim gold at Skate Canada International in Regina.
Dressed in a dramatic black and silver sequined costume, the 21-year-old from Marystown opened with her trademark jump combo — a soaring triple flip triple toe — but had to put a hand down to steady herself after a shaky landing on the second jump.
Canada’s three-time national champion rallied to land four more triple jumps before falling on a relatively simply double Axel in the final seconds.
“I was a little upset about the Axel, actually, but I was just really excited,” said Osmond. “I love this program and I got a great reaction from the crowd and it just makes the program even more exciting for me knowing that the audience loves it.
“All the jumps didn’t work, but I’m happy with the overall package.”
Osmond finished 20 points clear of the rest of the 12-woman field, building on the solid lead she held following Friday’s short program.
The 21-year-old scored 136.95 for her free skate and 212.91 overall, about five points shy of her personal best.
“It’s a great starting point. Score-wise, I’m where I was at the Grand Prix Final last year, so I’m a couple of months ahead and hopefully it will keep growing.”
Russian Maria Sotskova claimed silver, while American Ashley Wagner pulled up from seventh in the opener into the bronze-medal position.
Osmond has wanted to perform Black Swan for some time.
“I’m so excited to do it this year,” she said of the program set to music from the Black Swan movie soundtrack and Tchaikovsky’s classic Swan Lake. “It’s such a strong character for me. It has the innocent and naïve white swan and the powerful, evil, free black swan.
“Even though there’s a lot more black swan in the program, I want to show the contrast between the two, show the power you need to become both the black and white swan and embrace all parts of yourself to be able to perform at your absolute best,” said Osmond, who lives and trains in Edmonton.
Saturday’s victory was her second at Skate Canada. She won her first title in 2012 at age 16 before a series of injuries nearly derailed her career. A year ago in Mississauga, Ont., she ranked second to the Russian world champ.
Osmond’s next Grand Prix assignment is the Internationaux de France in Grenoble, site of the 1968 Olympic Games.
Each competitor is assigned to compete at two Grand Prix events and awarded points based on their results. The top six performers qualify for the Grand Prix Final, in Nagoya, Japan in December.
Osmond finished fourth at the final last year.
In the first half of this Olympic season, her goal is to ratify her credentials as a podium contender for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea in February.
Her silver-medal finish at the 2017 world figure skating championships put her in the Olympic medal conversation, and she needs to continue posting good results in Grand Prix competition to stay there.
Osmond, who turns 22 in December, ranked 13th in her first Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014, and won silver in the team event.
As a young girl, Osmond says she never dreamed about competing at the Olympics.
“It’s not something I watched on TV, not something my parents ever talked about. This year, I obviously know a little bit more about it (than four years ago), so it creeps into my head a bit, but it’s just another competition.”
Asked if winning the world championship silver medal last year had changed her life in any way, Osmond chuckled.
“No, not at all,” she said. “Back in Edmonton, no one knows anything (about it).”