Ice Network

Osmond: 'I love to tell stories through my skating'

Canadian says she enjoys exploring different styles, challenging herself
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Kaetlyn Osmond is a lover of books, and that passion translates to the ice, where she is one of the sport's best storytellers. -Getty Images

Kaetlyn Osmond's short program will be remembered as one of the more remarkable moments of the season. The talented Canadian skated a fantastic routine in Helsinki to place herself second entering the free skate. Osmond has established herself as one of the best in the world at integrating powerful technique, balletic posture and storytelling into her programs.

Following her rousing performance, Osmond talked to icenetwork about her short program and what it felt like to make a major statement on one of figure skating's biggest stages.

Icenetwork: This short program was really a hit for you this season, mainly because you skated it clean eight out of nine times.

Kaetlyn Osmond: The Four Continents Championships were just a fluke on the double axel because it's a jump I rarely miss in practice. Since then, I've really worked hard to master the whole program. During this short program, I managed to stay completely focused in the moment and I fully enjoyed the time I was out there.

Icenetwork: You beat your personal best as well by accruing 75.98 points, just 3.23 points short of the world record. How did that feel?

Osmond: It's incredible for me to end this season with a new season's best! As I said, I've accomplished everything I wanted to achieve in this short program here in Helsinki. I skated my absolute best technically, and I really enjoyed the program throughout.

Icenetwork: You seem to relate quite well to the storyline and to the music of the program. What is it about this program that you love so much?

Osmond: The character of the short program is such a confident character. At the beginning, that gave me the confidence to portray it myself. As you know, last season wasn't my best. That confidence helped me show that I could do better.

By now, after all the work we did, I think I'm able not to take energy from the program -- as I did at first -- but to add energy to the program.

Icenetwork: And yet Édith Piaf, who you portray throughout your short, was so stressed all the time and not confident in her real life!

Osmond: (laughs) OK, but you need to be faking it! You don't want people to notice. I suppose it was the case for her, and it is for me as well.

Icenetwork: Have you seen "La Vie en rose," the movie based on Piaf's life?

Osmond: No, I haven't watched the movie. It's just a character I wanted to portray. I wanted to dive into the story I was thinking of as much as I could. I must say that the movement of the music is so fluid, and that helped me.

Icenetwork: The short program has been your strongest section this year, and the free seemed more of a challenge. How did you work to improve this?

Osmond: We worked on stamina and on the way I approach the long program. You know, I'm just reaching the point where I'm beginning to trust myself.

Icenetwork: Why stamina? Do you feel you need more energy?

Osmond: No, not exactly. It's not hard for me to skate my long program in practice, and I have no problem energy-wise when I am competing. It's just a matter of making the program easier, so that it helps to finish the final jumps.

Icenetwork: At the same time, you are one of the most powerful jumpers, with what are certainly the longest jumps. Should we measure these amazing feats on the ice?

Osmond: Actually, we're trying to make my jumps smaller. Smaller jumps are easier to control, and combinations are easier to control. Today, I suppose they were a little bigger again. I put very little effort going into my jumps, actually. The less effort, the better. Each one of us works differently since the muscling of elements has never worked with me. It's more a matter of fluidity. I need to get into my rotation as fast as possible.

Icenetwork: You also mentioned that you worked on the way you approached the program. How do you go about completing this process?

Osmond: It's just a matter of saying key words to myself as the program unfolds and remembering small details like "stay calm," "breathe" and "stay focused on the moment."

You know, I had such a poor season last year that I had no real expectation entering this one. I just wanted to improve at every performance. Last year, I was so ready to make a perfect program, and it didn't work.

We worked a lot on this, especially these last weeks.

Icenetwork: Does it make a difference?

Osmond: It makes a huge difference! It allows me to consider the long program not as a whole as I am skating it but as a sum of single elements. It makes the program go by a lot faster, which is always good. At the end of it, you feel much better: If you failed on one element, you can isolate that element in your mind and just say you missed it -- not the whole program. If you skated great, then you're excited and breathless!

Icenetwork: Your coach, Ravi Walia, mentioned that instead of putting the pressure of "skating clean," you now have a goal to achieve excellence. Is that what you mean?

Osmond: Absolutely. Striving for each element's excellence allows focusing on each one individually. And it makes the whole program look complete, with one single line throughout.

Icenetwork: You are also known for your balletic posture on the ice. Is that a natural ability you possess or one you've continued to build up?

Osmond: Oh no! I always had to work on my posture. When I was a child, I was even criticized for my bad lines. I take ballet classes once or twice each week as I continue to work on this aspect of my skating. My ballet instructor teaches traditional classical ballet and that helps me work on posture and elegance on the ice. I really try to keep focused on my bodylines at each one of my practices.

I also really enjoy being in front of a crowd. It makes me remember the way I need to hold that posture on the ice.

Icenetwork: In each of your routines, you manage to incorporate an incredibly reliable technique while also portraying a special character and balletic style. How are you able to integrate the three?

Osmond: Lance Vipond, my choreographer, is amazing. We've been working together since I was 10 years old. He understands music so well, but he also knows me and the style I have. Putting it all together with Lance and adding my own personality makes the program so much more exciting. The passion from the audience also helps a great deal.

I'm also a huge storyteller. I like to read stories, and I like to tell stories. Actually, I read way too much.

Icenetwork: What type of stories are most appealing to you?

Osmond: All kinds. I'm a girl, so I love romance and love stories. But I read anything, mostly fiction. I love to tell stories through my skating. I love it when my facial expressions and my body expressions both incorporate into the story I'm telling.

Putting a story together on the ice is a thrill. I love creating a technical and storytelling package. Technique makes the story even more interesting and lively.

It's the same with La bohème, Giaccomo Puccini's opera I'm skating to in my long program. This is such a great story, even though the main character becomes ill and dies in the arms of her loved one. Portraying such drama -- and trauma -- is quite interesting to me.

Icenetwork: Are there particular styles which you tend to favor?

Osmond: As a matter of fact, I love changing styles, even though it may be a challenge. I think I've made changes every single year since I've started skating, from Bollywood to Latin to ballet. I try to challenge myself in my exhibitions. I even worked to skate to slower music, which may be my biggest struggle.

Icenetwork: You'll be skating last when the free skate opens Saturday. How do you cope with such a high-level situation?

Osmond: We've done lots of simulations at home. I practiced skating at every single position that I could possibly draw. Last week, I practiced skating first in the short, which worked out really well today. But I love skating last since that has always been my favorite spot. It will be just like Canadian nationals, skating last and right after Gabby [Daleman].