Kaetlyn Osmond: From Local Hero to International Star

Photo via https://www.facebook.com/KaetlynOsmondCFS/

When Brad Gushue and his familiars won gold at the 2006 Olympics, the response in Newfoundland was to build him a freeway and name half of Southlands after his team members. Now that Kaetlyn Osmond has objectively surpassed his achievement, will she get her highway?

Gushue, while he will forever be an historic figure in Newfoundland sporting history, was not what I or anyone else would call a dominant athlete. Newfoundland does have one of those, by the way, and she became the first Canadian woman in 45 years to win gold at the figure skating worlds this weekend – a result in keeping with her run of incredible performances recently.

She was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning team in this year’s Winter Olympics and picked up a bronze in the solo event. She picked up two more gold’s in the Skate Canada event and the Autumn Classic, making her historic first place finish in the World’s her third podium topping performance in solo competition this year alone.

Kaetlyn Osmond at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Gangneung, South Korea (Ahn Young-joon / AP)

At just 22, Osmond finds herself transcending the title of local hero and moving into the realm of international star. Along with Canada’s favourite not-actually-a-couple Scott Muir and Tessa Virtue, Osmond finds herself on top of her sport. It is important to understand the scope of this achievement, and to put into context the importance of her dominance.

There has never been a figure skater from this province to ascend to this level of competition, let alone crush under her feet the best the world had to offer. In the sporting world, Newfoundland has never produced an athlete of this calibre. The province has seen some success from its athletes, most famously in NHL stars like Michael Ryder and Teddy Purcell, but no one has had a year like this representing the Rock.

Osmond’s achievements this skating season are to be revered. Improving ten spots on her first Olympic performance, and then snapping a four-and-a-half-decade gold medal drought can and should be viewed as historically significant. Newfoundland has been in the news for its fleeing population of young people recently as the economy contracts, but this performance is something Newfoundlanders can be proud of.

Sports are a refuge from harsh realities. When an athlete rises up to separate herself from the field, her hometown supporters can share – if only briefly – in the pride she feels. Her success is our success. It is fitting, perhaps, that our often-ignored province has Osmond to hold up and wave in the faces of others. A 22 year old woman, from the obscurity of Marystown makes for a great bit of sporting folklore.

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