Getting to know Kaetlyn Osmond
by Darcy Rhyno
Kaetlyn Osmond is the most decorated women’s singles figure skater in Canadian history. When she won the 2018 World Championship, she was the first Canadian woman to do so since Karen Magnussen in 1973. Among many other accomplishments in the sport, Osmond has won three Canadian national championships, gold and silver at World Championships and three Olympic medals, one of each colour. Saltscapes spoke with Kaetlyn about starting out in rural Newfoundland, her parents’ sacrifices and the unexpected challenges of retiring at 22.
Where did you grow up?
Marystown. There were three houses down on the peninsula—my house, my uncle’s and my aunt’s. I could run from one house to the next. My back yard was the ocean. I still find myself drawn to the water. I’m a full blown Newfoundlander.
What was school like?
The rink was in the same parking lot as the school, so I remember going to the rink from 6 to 8 in the morning. When school was done, I’d run back to the rink.
How did you get started skating?
I wanted to be like my sister, Natasha. She was a better skater than I ever was. She did all disciplines of skating—singles, pairs and dance—and made it to the national level in all three. I learned from her by watching and wanting to do what she could do.
Your family moved to Montreal and then Edmonton.
They did everything they could to support my sister and I to skate. My parents couldn’t find work in Montreal, so they moved to Alberta. My sister and I lived with my coach for a while. My aunt moved from Newfoundland to live with us in Montreal. Eventually, we all moved to Edmonton. Both my parents work in the oil industry in Alberta.
Why did you offer coaching camps this winter across Newfoundland?
Newfoundland is where it all started for me. They never stopped supporting me. Going back last year for the Order of Newfoundland was such a humbling experience. Listening to all these people talk about their achievements, we came out thinking we have to do something. So, I did a developmental camp called “Off the Rock” across Newfoundland and Labrador. From there, I’m picking two skaters to travel to Edmonton to the club where I trained.
Which of your many awards and recognitions means the most to you?
It’s something I believed I never had the ability to do, so winning the World Championship was incredible. I never thought I had the ability to compete at the Olympics, let alone win medals. Having the Marystown rink named after me where I grew up skating, where my dream started, was cool.
What led to your decision to retire?
I loved competing. The adrenaline, the rush of emotions was highly addicting. I loved traveling across the world, representing Canada and having a purpose every day. But I’ve been skating since I was two. The last two years of competition were the best I ever had, but at 22, I was one of the oldest in my event. It’s a hard sport on your body and mentally.
What was most difficult about retiring?
The competitive lifestyle is so fast. I realized that real life is a lot slower, and 22 in the skating world is a lot older than 24 in the real world. I’m expecting to be more mature than I am. I lost a career and I wasn’t prepared to not have my lifestyle, my purpose, that guidance and structure. It was two years of wandering.
What do you do for yourself now?
I’m still performing in shows. That’s been a big help. I’m excited to figure out what else there is. I’m going to school for journalism. That’s one of the things that comes with retirement—learning what excites you.