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Osmond skates to lead after women's short program

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The Canadian Press
1/18/2013 11:34:40 PM
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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.

Osmond and her coach Ravi Walia 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.

Osmond and her coach Ravi Walia 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.

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.

Walia 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," Walia said.

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

Walia said he's careful to maintain a balance with Osmond.

"She is maturing, she's 17 now, and she is very intelligent and she knows what she needs to do. But she also is like a kid," the coach said.

When she or her training partners are sagging in practice, he'll implement fun games or rewards -- an iTunes gift card for the first skater to complete a clean program, for example. Osmond almost always wins.

"I've always been competitive, and we do a lot of fun competitions, we try to keep it fun and light," Osmond said. "We'll do competitions as weird as: how many single Axels can you do in a row? I can't win that one. Our record is 42 in a row, it's crazy."

This week's competition is a qualifying event for the world championships in March in London, Ont., and Canada has just one women's singles berth. Lacoste claimed the one spot at last year's event, finishing 16th in Nice, France.

"Of course I want to win again the national championships, but if I don't win again, I will be sad, but it won't be the end of the world," Lacoste said. "I know (the younger skaters) are pushing from behind, and they're here, and I need to do my job and if I don't do it, that's what happens."

Kaetlyn Osmond (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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