Kaetlyn Osmond reacts to her scores after performing her short program during the senior women’s competition at the Canadian figure skating championships in Vancouver on Friday January 12, 2018.
VANCOUVER — It is the tricky thing about figure skating: a little mistake can be very obvious.
Kaetlyn Osmond, defending Canadian champion, world silver medallist and Olympic medal hopeful, began her title defence on Friday feeling, she says, comfortable and confident.
And then, on her first element, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, she fell on the first jump. Not a little stumble, either, but the full zamboni.
“It was a random mistake,” the 22-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., said afterward. “I felt some nerves, but no more than I usually do in competitions. I just felt ready, but maybe I was a little too ready for the first jump.”
A little mistake to be sure, but while in some sports that means a pop-up to shortstop or a ball off the back rim, in figure skating it means a wipeout, and the need to pick oneself up and smile while doing it.
Osmond handled that part well, with a clean skate the rest of the way, adding the combination back in on her second triple jump to avoid disaster.
“Obviously I’m not overly pleased with it, I don’t remember the last time that I missed a (triple) flip in competition,” Osmond said. “But overall I’m so happy that I was able to come back after a fall, a very uncharacteristic fall for me, and be able to keep my focus through the whole program.”
Osmond’s fall left Gabrielle Daleman at the top of the leaderboard after the women’s short programs, which was a pretty fine way for her to exit her teenage years.
Daleman, who turns 20 on Saturday, nailed a clean program for a score of 77.88, including a triple toe loop combination and a triple Lutz. Osmond’s second-place score was 71.41.
Daleman, who is from Newmarket, Ont., but skates out of the Toronto Skating Club, managed that performance despite pneumonia-like symptoms that caused her trouble breathing.
“That was honestly one of the best skates I’ve had,” Daleman said of the routine set to selections from the opera Carmen.
“Honestly, just to cancel everything out is hard for any athlete but I just said, ‘Go out there, do your job, you love this program, it is so you, have fun with it.’ I even said to my brother before I left, I said I want to come off the ice and say that’s how I end 19 and that’s exactly what I did.” When she finished the routine, she gave it the double fist pump and slapped her hands together with a wide smile. See ya, teenage years.
Gabrielle Daleman celebrates at the end of her short program.
Daleman, who was the silver medallist at the Canadian figure skating championships last year and won the bronze at the worlds in Helsinki, was forced to have emergency abdominal surgery in the spring and took the summer off skating to recover. She spoke this week about the “disgusting” fluid build-up that had taken place thanks to a ruptured cyst, so perhaps it’s not surprising that she seems to have shrugged off another illness.
Daleman says a team doctor told her on Thursday night that she has pneumonia. “And the end of the day that sounds bad, and it kinda is because you can’t breathe, but I look at it as extra cardio training,” she said, a big grin on her face.
“If I can do this now, imagine what I can do at full strength,” she said. “This was just a great confidence booster.”
Daleman and Osmond have a healthy lead on 16-year-old Sarah Tamura of Vancouver (54.34). None of the other skaters in the final flight managed clean programs, which would have given them the edge for Canada’s third women’s singles spot heading into Saturday’s free skate.
Osmond, meanwhile, said her mindset won’t change after the Friday stumble.
“This is the first time this season that I’ve been behind after the short program, so I’m really motivated to skate a clean long (program) and put out as much as I possibly can and redeem myself,” she said.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir say they had to fight through their turns in their short dance Friday.
In other action on Friday afternoon at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on the University of british Columbia campus, three-time world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated a strong short program and took their expected spot at the top of the ice-dance field.
Though the performance to a medley of the Rolling Stones, Eagles and Santana looked relatively flawless, the Olympic silver medallists said the skate did not come easy.
“It’s great practice, because we actually had to fight for it,” Virtue said.
“Sometimes, you have to fight for the turns,” said Moir, who said there could be a benefit from having to scuffle a little. “Sometimes, that’s the performance you want. You want those gritty performances going into the Olympics.”
The pairs and men’s singles short programs at the nationals were scheduled for later Friday in Vancouver, with the free skates for all four disciplines to take place on Saturday.
Canada’s figure skating team for Pyeongchang 2018 will be formally named on Sunday morning.