The anxious and giddy crowd, numbering a couple hundred, perhaps, stopped just short of hoisting her on their collective shoulders and crying out to the departure gates above, “Hip! Hip’ Hooray!” as they greeted Olympic bronze medallist and world champion Kaetlyn Osmond Thursday evening.
Dozens of little figure skaters squealed “Kaetlyn! Kaetlyn!” as the pride of Marystown got the hero’s welcome at St. John’s International Airport in front of family, friends, supporters and a large media contingent.
“It feels like I’m at the Olympics again,” she smiled.
For the Burin Peninsula community of Marystown, this is big stuff, and Osmond will be treated like a queen this next couple of days on this homecoming tour, starting with a parade Saturday morning, followed by a sold-out ice show with her former skating club, the Ice Crystals, followed by another reception in the evening.
But first the premier hosts Osmond and PyeongChang Paralympic silver medalist Liam Hickey today at Confederation Building, where there’s whispers another road or highway will be renamed on Osmond’s honour, and perhaps Hickey’s, too.
"It’s never occurred to me to put anything else as my hometown. Whenever it says hometown, I say Marystown, N.L. It’s where I’m from, and where I always say I am from.”
Before hitting the road with Stars on Ice for a cross-Canada tour, she will skate in a pair of shows in Corner Brook and Grand Falls-Windsor April 21-22.
Not bad for someone who hasn’t lived in the province in 14 years, residing in Alberta longer than she did in Newfoundland. Osmond and her older sister, Natasha, who was also a figure skater, moved to Montreal when Kaetlyn was eight. Two years later, the entire family moved to Alberta where they continue to reside in Sherwood Park, outside Edmonton.
Osmond was Alberta’s female athlete of the year in 2017, and this trip to Newfoundland is only her first in four years.
Still, Osmond is quick to point out to whoever is listening Marystown in home. The Canadian Olympic media guide, presumably on her instructions, has her home province listed as both Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It’s never occurred to me to put anything else as my hometown,” she said after the official ceremony at the airport. “Whenever it says hometown, I say Marystown, N.L. It’s where I’m from, and where I always say I am from.
“I get the biggest support from here. It feels like the entire province is my family.
“It’s always an amazing turnout when I get to come home. And as inspiring as it is to them (her young fans who turned out Thursday) for me to come home, it’s even more inspiring for me.”
It was three weeks ago in Milan, Italy that Osmond became the first Canadian woman to win a world championship gold medal, rubbing shoulders with the great Karen Magnussen, who won in 1973.
In South Korea, her bronze medal was Canada's first medal in women's figure skating since Joannie Rochette placed third in Vancouver eight years ago.
Since then, it’s been a whirlwind. She returned home to Alberta, then travelled to Toronto to work with Jeffrey Buttle on a new exhibition program for Stars on Ice.
From there, she headed for Milan, and since the world championship has been in Japan working on the Stars on Ice program.
After the Canadian Stars tour, Osmond and the group will head back to South Korea and following that she’ll get some well-deserved down time before cranking it again next season as she considers a shot at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
“I love competing at the Olympics, and I’ve gotten the opportunity to skate in two of them already,” she said. “They’re just so exciting, and it’s the one time every four years the entire country and world comes together. So it’s always exciting to go out and represent Canada on the biggest stage ever.
“It’s definitely in the back of my mind to compete there four years from now. That said, I’m taking it year by year. Four years is a long commitment.”