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Osmond earns Canada two entries in ladies for the 2014 Olympics

LONDON, Ont. - Mission accomplished.

Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond came to her first world championships and did what she intended to do: finish in the top 10 (eighth actually) and earn two Olympic berths for Canadian women for the 2014 Sochi Games.

Osmond finished with 176.87 points after falling on the triple flip and a triple toe loop (first part of a combination), but she steamed onward and delivered, the second-last skater to compete.

After her came Olympic champion Yu-Na Kim, and she unleashed an unforgettable performance to Les Miserables, earning 218.31 points. After being out of the big international waters for 20 months, even Kim was surprised at what judges awarded her.

Carolina Kostner of Italy, last year’s world champion in the absence of Kim, took the silver medal, holding back a nosebleed throughout her haunting, beautiful routine to Bolero. During a spin, she grabbed the bridge of her nose . “It was running like a river,” she said. “I decided if I wanted to finish, I just had to let it go and try to forget about it as much as I can.”

Despite her troubled journey, Kostner earned 197.89 points, after singling a loop, and falling on her very final jump, a triple Salchow. Kostner actually finished third in the freeskate.

Second in the freeskate was former world champion Mao Asada of Japan, who won the bronze medal overall with 196.47 points, close on Kostner’s heels.

Asada rotated her triple Axel, but landed it on two feet, and then little mistakes added up, especially during the first half of her routine to Swan Lake. She also two-footed a triple flip, got an edge call for her triple Lutz, and slightly underrotated a double loop that was part of a three jump combination. Asada said she was able to focus mid-way through the program and regain her composure.

The surprise of the event was little Zijun Li of China, 16, competing at her first worlds. Dressed in delicate pale pink, she skated that way, too, to Sleeping Beauty, but her determination was formidable. Her only error was to get an edge call on a triple Lutz, but she succeeded in landing a triple flip – triple toe loop combination, a double Axel – triple toe loop, a triple Salchow-double toe loop – double loop, and every other triple you could think of. Spins? Level four on the final layback spin.

Shades of world champion Lu Chen? Coach Mingzhu Li, who had also coached Chen, was in Li’s corner too, and as Li stood, finishing up her bows at centre ice, Li stood throwing her fists into the air at rinkside.

Li finished fourth in the freeskate and seventh overall.

Just like Li, Kanako Murakami of Japan earned a standing ovation for her effort., but she actually finished only seventh in the long program, although her final mark of 189.73 was good enough for fourth place overall.

U.S. champion Ashley Wagner and silver medalist Gracie Gold achieved what they came for: to win back three world spots that had gone missing for five seasons. Of course, that means they also earned three Olympic berths for next year. Wagner finished fifth and Gold sixth.

“I was on the team that lost that (third spot) and I’m on the team that got it back,” Wagner said. “I’m so proud of Gracie for keeping her head on her shoulders at her first worlds.”
Osmond actually finished 10th in the freeskate, but left a lasting impression, with her bold rendition of Carmen. She made an array of little mistakes, but hey, the last Canadian woman to win a medal at her first world championships was Barbara Ann Scott in 1947.

Was she nervous? Not seemingly all that much, after being fourth and skating in the final group of formidable competitors. “I was fourth after the short program and it can’t get much better than that for my first world experience,” she said. “So even though it wasn’t a perfect skate, I just went out there to have fun and enjoy it. And when I finished my program, I was still happy with it.”

She said the fall on the flip shook her up a little bit and it was “hard to stay focused for a while afterwards,” she said.

Before she came to the rink on Saturday, she said she watched the dance event and “seeing them skate so well, it calmed me down, thinking that I’ll come in here and do the same thing.”

Osmond said she wasn’t putting that much pressure on herself to finish in the top 10 at worlds, because truth be told, she didn’t think it would happen at her first attempt. “Just coming out here and being eighth I guess was really exciting and outstanding for me."

The scene – a noisy audience packed to the rafters and a group of top skaters for her to skate around in warmup – was enough to perhaps put Osmond a little out of focus, she admitted.

She’s learned a lot from this competition, she said. It only bodes well for the future.