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Nebelhorn champ Osmond steps up her game

Canadian bronze medalist climbs from junior to senior, improves with positive approach

Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond is one to keep an eye on in the 2012-13 season.
Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond is one to keep an eye on in the 2012-13 season. (Skate Canada/Stephan Potopnyk)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(10/11/2012) - Reigning Canadian ladies bronze medalist Kaetlyn Osmond described herself as being "kind of in shock" after winning gold at Nebelhorn Trophy -- her first international title -- in Oberstdorf, Germany.

"It went by so fast," Osmond, 16, said. "Once I landed [back in Canada] and I saw my parents and they were congratulating me, I thought, 'OK, so that really did happen.'"

That sense of taking wins and losses in stride is indicative of Osmond's overall positive attitude and sense of focus. Her coach, Ravi Walia, puts the emphasis on consistent improvement rather than medal count.

"We're going to keep going in that direction," he said. "One of the things that she has that's really in her favor is she's really strong in all areas, whether it's jumping, spinning, footwork, but also in the program components. She's got great transitions, choreography and interpretation."

Osmond's longtime choreographer, Lance Vipond, described her as having the "it" factor.

"She just catches everyone's eye right off the bat," said Vipond, who has worked with Osmond since she moved to Edmonton, Alberta, from Newfoundland to train with Walia. They are based at Ice Palace.

"Ever since she was a little kid, people gravitate to her. It's amazing to watch the way the room lights up when they're watching her skate."

Osmond returns the compliment, noting that Vipond is excellent at creating programs that are unique, custom-made for the skater for whom he's choreographing. Her free skate for this season is to music from Carmen, which certainly has been heard before in skating.

"He can still make the program look like the classic Carmen, but also make it look like me and modernize it," Osmond said.

Vipond said he especially enjoys challenging Osmond with new styles each season.

"She's been able to do anything since she was a little kid," he said. "We've always used different styles and tried to change it up every single time to push her because she's such a natural talent."

Over the years, many skaters have struggled with the transition from junior to senior. That doesn't appear to be true for Osmond, who placed third at the 2012 Canadian Championships in her first year at the senior level -- even winning the short program. The gold medal at Nebelhorn confirms her progress.

"The main difference between junior and senior is the detail of everything," Osmond said. "Also, you have to get used to competing against people who have already done so well in their careers.

"Everything this year has become more perfected," she added. "We've gone into detail a lot."

Her Latin style short program is set to music by Pérez Prado, "Mambo No. 8" and "Gwendoline."

"We've tried to give her different concepts for her programs and make sure she was able to grow from each program she had," Walia said. "People notice the choreography she has in her programs and notice that she's a unique skater."

Even after five years, Vipond is still impressed with Osmond's ability to take things in stride. He assumes she's read things on the Internet touting her as the Canadian lady of the moment, the one who'll make an impact on the international scene, but she doesn't let the pressure get to her. Walia enables her to sustain that attitude by keeping to a plan for steady progress.

"She has everything that I think a competitor needs: athletic ability, the ability to be an actress and tell a story in her programs, musicality, that natural 'it' factor -- and she's a competitor," Vipond said. "She has a natural competitor's instinct. It's really impressive."

Next up for Osmond is Skate Canada in Windsor, Ontario, in late October.

"I'm really hoping to step it up this year," Osmond said. "This is my first time on the Grand Prix circuit. I'm really hoping that it will go over as well as Nebelhorn did. We'll see."