Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman won silver and bronze, respectively, on Friday at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, giving Canada its first ever double podium in the ladies’ event.
“It was such an incredible feeling. To be able to stand on the podium and see one Canadian flag raised is one thing, but to see two, it just feels like you’re not alone,” Osmond said in the post-event press conference. “Figure skating is such an individual sport but to see another teammate on the podium with you is just unbelievable.”
The Canadians were the last two skaters to compete in the free skate, which had not seen a lot of clean performances. One of those came from reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia, who successfully defended her title with world record scores of 154.40 for the free skate and 233.41 overall. She is the first woman to win back-to-back gold medals since Michelle Kwan in 2000 and 2001.
Daleman went immediately after, feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm. Feeling relaxed and confident, she nailed her trademark soaring triple toe-triple toe combination to open. She was nearly perfect from there, including two beautiful triple Lutzes, to earn 141.33 for the free skate and 213.52 overall. It was her first time breaking the 200-point mark as she surpassed her previous personal best in the free skate by more than 12 points.
“This season I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had a lot of self-doubt when it comes to my skating,” Daleman said, recalling how last week her coaches and training mates had a good talk with her. “Everyone just told me ‘you need to know you’re capable of medalling and you’re capable of being so much better than you are’ and that’s exactly the mindset I came into this competition, believing that I can medal, knowing I can do this and trusting myself and I said that to myself just before my music played for my long program.”
National champion Osmond followed, getting a boost from the knowledge that her teammate had done well.
“I definitely knew how Gabby had skated,” she laughed. “She was super excited about her program and the crowd was going crazy. When you hear the scores, there’s no way to avoid it.”
Osmond opened with her own strong triple flip-triple toe combo. She only made one significant error when she doubled a planned triple loop, a jump that has caused her issues throughout the season. But she didn’t let it affect the rest of her program, coming right back with a solid triple flip. She scored personal bests of 142.15 in the free skate and 218.13 overall.
“Knowing that Canada had a medal before you even stepped out on the ice, almost gave me a bit more confidence and a bit more hope that I wanted to feel that same way,” she explained.” And when I went out there, I was just enjoying the fact that I was competing last at the world championships.”
The last time a Canadian woman stood on the world championship podium was when Joannie Rochette won silver in 2009. The results also secure Canada three entries in the ladies’ event for PyeongChang 2018. The last time Canada had three women at the Olympic Games was at Grenoble 1968.
When Osmond first stood on the national podium in 2012, the hope was that she would quickly follow in Rochette’s footsteps. But she was struck by more than one injury, most notably a broken leg that required two surgeries and took her out of competition for the entire 2014-15 season. She had to rebuild all of her jumps and then spent last season learning how to compete again, but didn’t qualify for last year’s world championships.
Earlier on Friday, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skated to a world record score of 82.43 in the short dance, surpassing their previous record mark by almost two full points. They hold a 5.5-point lead over two-time reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France (76.89) heading into Saturday’s free dance.
Virtue and Moir were the only duo to earn level four on all five of their short dance elements and boosted their technical base value by more than 10 points with their strong execution. After two years away from competitive ice, they spent this season building up the performance level of the program to some of Prince’s greatest hits and it showed, with nine 10s on the board from individual judges for their components.
Below the 2010 Olympic champions, the field is very tightly packed. The teams ranked second, third, and fourth are all within 0.64 of each other, making it a virtual tie. Canada’s two-time world medallists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje are currently in sixth place with 74.88 points, but just 0.04 behind last year’s world silver medallists Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States. Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier sit ninth with 72.83 points.
Saturday will also feature the men’s free skate. Patrick Chan is in third place after the short program, following a clean skate that earned him a personal best score of 102.13. It was the first time he had broken the 100-point barrier, something only four other men have done. He’ll need to be at his best again in the free skate, with the two men ahead of him – Javier Fernandez (109.05) and Shoma Uno (104.86) – as well as the three directly behind him – Boyang Jin (98.64), Yuzuru Hanyu (98.39) and Nathan Chen (97.33) – all planning at least four and up to six quads.
Canada already looks to have secured three Olympic berths in the pairs event, thanks to the sixth and seventh place finishes by Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. The latter duo had gone to Helsinki as the two-time defending world champions, but were hindered by Radford’s hip injury, which had them considering a withdrawal before they chose to fight through it.