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Kaetlyn Osmond poised to make Olympic debut after months of obstacles

Canadian figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond skates during the Senior Women's practice at the Canadian Skating Championships Thursday January 9, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
January 09, 2014 - 1:32 PM

OTTAWA - Two injuries have derailed most of Kaetlyn Osmond's rookie Olympic season, but she and her coach have managed to find a silver lining.

Osmond said she's fully recovered from both a stress reaction in her left ankle, and a torn right hamstring, and is skating in practice better than at any other time in her relatively short career.

And when the curtain comes up on the Sochi Olympics next month, Osmond, at least, will be fresh.

"I think it will end up being a real advantage for her," her coach Ravi Walia said on the eve of the Canadian figure skating championships. "Some people are exhausted at the end of the season, and I think she won't be. She's just getting better. This last month of training, she's just gotten so much better. And I really believe that she has a lot more in her this season to keep improving."

The 18-year-old from Marystown, N.L., should be a lock for one of Canada's two Olympic berths in women's singles, and is Canada's most promising female skater since the retirement of Joannie Rochette.

But a season that held so much promise for the skater who burst onto the international scene when she won Skate Canada in the fall of 2012 has been full of obstacles.

She suffered the stress reaction — a precursor to a stress fracture — in August, and was off the ice for several weeks. Then finally back on the ice for Skate Canada in late October, she woke up the morning of her long program unable to put much weight on her leg. Tests determined it was a torn hamstring and she withdrew from the remainder of the Grand Prix circuit.

"This whole year has been a big learning experience," said Osmond, who trains in Edmonton.

Her goal this week is to show "that I can come back from anything."

Walia said her recovery from her latest setback has been remarkable, and praised the teenager's positive outlook.

"She's had so many obstacles and so many setbacks, but what's been great is she has a good attitude, and whatever setbacks she had she would do whatever she had to to get back on track," he said. "Even if she wasn't at 100 per cent, you could tell the motivation was there."

"I was getting worried because of timeline," he added. "But each day she would come (to practice) and do whatever we had to do, and it would be successful each day. She got ready so quick."

This season's short program — to "Big Spender" from the musical "Sweet Charity" — was met with some criticism when she debuted it at Skate Canada. There were questions about whether the choice of music was too mature for the teen. She was referred to as "Canada's answer to Miley Cyrus."

Both Osmond and Walia shrugged off the negative comments.

"She knows her program is appropriate for her, she likes it and it's exciting to do, so it didn't bother her at all," Walia said. "It was brought up to be something that it wasn't. Half the skaters out there are skating to music, that maybe where it comes from, might be a story that they're not portraying. She's skating to a '60s style dance.

"It was a little surprising, it didn't necessarily bother me," he added.

Osmond won Skate Canada Challenge — a qualifying event for nationals that she normally would have skipped — early last month, and now, with obstacles behind her, is poised to make her Olympic debut.

"It just seems like everything is going really fast. It's exciting," said Osmond, who was eighth at last year's world championships. "(Making the Olympic team) still hasn't fully crossed my mind, I think it's still such a shocker to even think of the possibility, so I don't think it will fully register until I actually make it."

Skate Canada will name its team for Sochi on Sunday.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2014
The Canadian Press

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