Road To The Olympic Games

Kaetlyn Osmond skates into new role after winning worlds

Three years after a gruesome broken leg nearly ended her career, 22-year-old Kaetlyn Osmond won gold at the world figure skating championships on Friday, ending a drought that stretched back 45 years.

22-year-old ends long Canadian figure skating drought

Kaetlyn Osmond reacts following her gold-medal winning free skate at the figure skating world championships on Friday. (Luca Bruno/The Associated Press)

It was almost 1 a.m. before Kaetlyn Osmond was back at her hotel room, exhausted from a long and exhilarating Friday.

She took a few minutes to answer a couple of the hundreds of congratulatory messages she'd received before falling into bed.

Three years after a gruesome broken leg nearly ended her career, the 22-year-old from Marystown, N.L., won gold at the world figure skating championships on Friday, ending a drought that stretched back 45 years.

A day later, the remarkable accomplishment was still sinking in.

"I definitely never expected [my free skate] to lead to gold," Osmond said.

After scoring 150.50 in the free skate program, Kaetlyn Osmond would secure top spot at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Milan, Italy. 7:38

Osmond was in fourth place — and cursing her missed double Axel — after Thursday's short program. She was the first skater on the ice for the final group of Friday's free skate, and laid down an almost flawless "Black Swan" program for 223.23 total points. She then sat and watched from a small couch with coach Ravi Walia as the final five skaters, including Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, attempted and failed to top her score.

"It was absolutely crazy to be able to see that," Osmond said.

Remarkable recovery

Osmond won her first Canadian title in 2013 when she was just 17, but in the fall of 2014, she broke her leg in two places, and had to start from scratch, relearning not only her jumps and spins but the simple act of stroking on the ice. Her first tentative lap around the rink after her accident took almost half an hour, Osmond clutching Walia's arm for support.

Friday night, Osmond's only misstep came when she fell during the medal ceremony. Osmond was leading Japan's silver and bronze medallists Wakaba Higuchi and Satoko Miyahara in a lap around the ice, when she failed to see the rubber mat to the podium. She tripped over it and fell, rolling in the Canadian flag she'd seconds earlier held aloft. The Japanese medallists rushed to help her up, as Osmond, laughing, gave a mini bow.

Not even a trip over the carpet could stop the figure skater's celebration​ 0:58

Her gold was Canada's first in women's singles since Karen Magnussen won in 1973. Osmond said Magnussen, who turns 66 next month, emailed her congratulations both after she won world silver last year in Helsinki and bronze at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Asked if she'd heard from Magnussen yet in Italy, Osmond laughed and said maybe. She hadn't had a chance yet to scroll through the hundreds of messages.

She hadn't yet spoken with her parents by phone, although they'd exchanged text messages.

"They were very excited. I'm sure my mom [Jackie] is still crying," Osmond said.

Osmond helped Canada to gold in the team event and then won singles bronze at the Olympics in Pyeongchang, and admitted it was a tough slog getting back on the ice at her training base in Edmonton.

"I was definitely emotionally and physically drained. That was difficult," she said. "But then I enjoyed myself a little bit and went to Toronto to work with Jeffrey [Buttle] on a new exhibition program for Stars on Ice, so that took my mind off everything a little bit more, and almost gave me another energy boost."

Added motivation

Osmond, who finished runner-up to Gabrielle Daleman at the Canadian championships in January, said her late-season strength has her extra motivated for next season.

"It definitely gives me a lot of confidence. Being able to put out two clean long programs at the end of my season was probably the most rewarding feeling for me," she said. "To be able to finally prove to myself that I can do that in competition and not just in practice gives me a lot of motivation for what else I can come up with."

Figure skater reflects on becoming the first Canadian female to win at the world championships in 45 years. 1:28

The Canadian team, which held a post-competition celebration Saturday evening, leaves Italy with two medals — Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won bronze in ice dance to cap the competition.

Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir didn't compete at the worlds and are expected to announce their retirement in the coming weeks, while two-time world pairs champs Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, and three-time men's champion Patrick Chan said they were retiring after Pyeongchang.

The massive turnover casts a question mark on Canada's team. Osmond, though, has stepped up as a leader.

"It was definitely something I didn't expect. I never saw myself in the leader role before, and being a veteran still feels new to me," she said. "This is only my fourth worlds, and I've been all over the map at worlds, I was eighth, I was 11th, and then didn't even qualify, so I didn't know I was going to step up into a veteran role like this."

The Stars on Ice tour opens April 27 in Halifax.

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