Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A skating sensation at 17

Osmond breaks national record in women's short program

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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- In her black sequined dress and lips painted bright pink, Kaetlyn Osmond played up to the crowd in her mambo short program, looking little like a 17-year-old.

That was all part of the plan.

One of Canada's brightest young skaters opened her quest for her first national senior title Friday by winning the women's short program at the Canadian figure skating championships. The native of Marystown, N.L., skated a clean program that included three triple jumps to score 70.04 points -- the highest ever at a domestic Canadian event.

Two-time world champion Patrick Chan won the men's short program with his first clean program of the season.

Osmond and her coach, Ravi Walla, knew going into this season that for Osmond to compete with the world's top women's skaters, she would need to look like one.

"We've definitely gone into the more mature programs this year, hoping to not recognize that I am younger and trying to match me with a lot of the more mature skaters," Osmond said.

Chan scored 94.63, landing a huge quad and triple Axel and staying on his feet for perhaps the first time in what's been a rocky season. The 22-year-old said he watched Osmond's performance on TV in his hotel room and drew inspiration.

"I admire her because she just goes out and has a blast. She goes out and doesn't care about the results, which I guess is good to be young," Chan said. "When I was young, I had that same mentality, where I didn't really care. She's singing before she's going out to skate, but she lands her jumps, like no problem. Tons of flow."

Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., scored 85.32 for second, while Liam Firus of North Vancouver, B.C., scored 75.33 for third.

Defending champion Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., fell on her triple loop en route to finishing second among the women with 57.86, while Julianne Seguin of Longueuil, Que., was third with 53.93.

Osmond's score topped the previous best domestic short-program mark of 66.30, set by Cynthia Phaneuf in edging Joannie Rochette in 2010 about a month before Rochette won Olympic bronze.

Domestic scores don't count for records or international ranking because they tend to be inflated. Japan's Mao Asada holds the highest score at an international event this season of 67.95.

In pairs Friday, defending champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford hold a slim lead over Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch after the short program.

Osmond, who trains in Edmonton, was relatively unknown before claiming bronze at last year's Canadian championships. She then upset a strong field to win Skate Canada International in October in her first-ever Grand Prix appearance.

Walla noticed last season that Osmond's components scores, what were known as "artistic impression" scores under the old judging system, were significantly lower than those of Lacoste and Canadian silver medallist Cynthia Phaneuf.

So they upped the maturity quotient "to try to package her in a way that in her first year of senior international competition, they wouldn't see her as a 16-year-old, they would see her as a contender, someone who has the sophistication, the classiness as the top skaters in the world," Walla said.

She'll skate today's program to Carmen, the same music Canadian ice dance stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir chose for this season's sultry long program.

While Osmond shows maturity on the ice, Chan, turned 22 on New Years Eve, sees only her youthful verve.

"I feel when you're in your 20s and you're under these situations of media and expectations, you take it to heart. You have much more responsibility as an adult," he said.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 19, 2013 C8

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