YARMOUTH, N.S. – It’s a day that was months in the making in Yarmouth, but it all really began two decades earlier in the small, rural town of Marystown, Newfoundland, when a young girl named Kaetlyn Osmond went onto the ice at the age of two.
She didn’t have skating aspirations at that young age, but they would come soon enough, and they would take her on an incredible journey throughout her life that most recently in her career saw her capture gold and bronze Olympic medals in 2018 – in the team event and ladies singles – along with becoming the 2018 Ladies Singles World Champion.
That she was now at the Mariners Centre in Yarmouth on Jan. 12 conducting a day-long seminar with young figure skaters from the Yarmouth Skating Club, and skaters from other clubs as well, was – as you can well imagine – beyond exciting for those taking part and receiving skating tips and advice from a skater that many look up to as a role model in the sport.
Marilee Lyons of the Yarmouth Skating Club says organizing the visit by Osmond started in April 2018. She and others had been to Stars on Ice and other skating events and decided they should look for someone to come Yarmouth’s way.
There’s a saying: What could it hurt to ask?
And so Lyons did.
“After Stars on Ice I just randomly sent her a message that said, ‘Hey, great show. You’re a living inspiration for the young girls. Would you be interested in coming to Yarmouth to do a seminar?’” She replied not too long after saying my dad is my agent and here is his contact information,” Lyons said.
Lyons sent a letter pointing out that as a rural part of the province, Yarmouth doesn’t benefit from the same opportunities that other places do where skaters would be more apt to visit due to geography. Osmond’s dad responded back saying depending on her schedule in the future, it was a possibility that she could visit.
And then in August they received a message saying how about the weekend of Jan. 12?
Lyons said they went through all of the ins and outs needed, and decided to give it a shot, making sure they could secure the ice for a full day and working with the Mariners Centre and minor hockey to help make things a reality.
When last weekend finally rolled around, everyone was ecstatic, Lyons says.
For her part, Osmond said it means a lot to be able to visit rural parts of the country to meet with young skaters.
“It was always really exciting for me when I was younger for someone to come in to teach a seminar and be a part of these camps,” she said. “Hopefully people, also knowing that I am from a small town, it can motivate them to say that I can do a lot more.”
She noted her hometown of Marystown continues to be a huge supporter. She said it means a lot.
“Marystown has probably been my biggest supporter my entire life. I left there when I was 8 years old and they still support me as if I lived there fulltime,” she said. “All of the support if absolutely amazing.”
As part of her visit to Yarmouth a question and answer session took place with the young skaters. Here’s a sampling of the questions and Osmond’s responses.
Q: What do you think about before you go on the ice?
A: “I have a lot of breathing exercises so I’m mostly thinking about those. Thinking about all of the work that I’ve done with my sports psychologist. Trying my hardest not to think about what I’m about to do.”
Q: What are your goals when you perform?
“Every time I go out on the ice I have a different goal. Sometimes it was to learn my triple loop for the first time. Sometimes it was just to make the performance bigger, tell the story better. Every time I have just have one focus so I didn’t overwhelm myself with everything.”
Q: How does it feel waiting for the music to start at the Olympics?
A: “It’s hard. It wasn’t just the Olympics, it was pretty much every time I competed in my life. The most stressful time is waiting for your program to start . . . I was so nervous all day, terrified, and I had a bit of that. When I went on the ice and they called my name, all those nerves went away. When I heard that music it felt like I was home.”
Q: What was it like at the Olympics?
“It’s really loud. There’s a lot of people. But it’s mostly just like any other competition, it’s the same people I was competing against for many years.”
Q: Do you usually get nervous?
“I was lucky as a kid that I actually never got nervous, so growing up I was really happy about that. After I broke my leg (she suffered the injury in practice in 2014) and I came back, I got nervous for the very first time in my life and it seemed like every competition after that I got more and more nervous, thinking that the nerves would go away. They never did. At the Olympics, the day of my long program, I don’t think I’ve ever been more nervous in my whole entire life. But one of my biggest tools that I’ve learned to deal with that is to admit it. The minute you admit that you’re nervous it tends to relax you a little bit more.”
Q: When you ended your long program at Worlds, did you think you were going to win?
A: “Funny story about that program at Worlds. I was the most exhausted I had ever been in my entire life and I was thinking that before my program even started, which was probably not a good thing. When I hit my end position at Worlds I was really relieved that I made it and that I don’t think my legs can make it to the other end of the ice. I didn’t think I was going to win.”
Q: When did you start skating and how much time do you spend on the ice?
A: “I started skating when I was 2, mostly because I had an older sister who skated and I wanted to be exactly like her. I spend about three hours a day, five days a week on the ice. And another hour or two off the ice, whether it is training, ballet, yoga, massage therapy, physical therapy.”
Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
A: “My sister was my biggest inspiration. My entire life she was, even now she doesn't skate, but she has a family and I’m still inspired by her. Growing up I always wanted to be like her and when I finally got to compete against her I thought it was the most exciting thing ever. She’s always been my biggest supporter.”
Q: Did you travel a lot when you were a kid?
A: “I was from a very small town in Newfoundland and for me to train in the summer I had to go to St. John’s, that was like a three-hour drive away. Eventually I moved to Montreal but before I moved there I used to train there in the summer, so I would travel to Montreal every summer. Then I moved there and then I moved to Edmonton. I used to go to California a few times in the summer to train. And now I get to travel a lot and it’s great.”
Q: Have you ever felt like quitting?
A: “When I broke my leg I actually did very much consider quitting. I was in the hospital and it was the first time I admitted to my parents that I didn’t want to try it again. I was tired, I was in a lot of pain and dealing with a lot of stuff at that time. But mainly I was just scared. I was scared of performing and disappointing them and I thought that that was going to be my easy way out."
Q: What’s your biggest piece of advice?
A: “To enjoy it. A lot of skating can get really stressful, a lot of doing anything can get really stressful. One of my biggest upsets is to see people on the ice who absolutely hate it. You can tell someone who is just having a bad day. There’s been days that I’ve been on the ice and I’ve been crying. I’ll be upset, I’ll be angry, but someone could easily tell that I still loved what I was doing. So that’s one of my biggest things, always find something that you love about skating or love about whatever you’re doing and just keep that in the back of your mind, even if you’re not having a good day.”