Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond and national silver medalist Gabby Daleman will have much to remember and much to learn from their Olympic experience in Sochi.
Neither quite met their goals: Osmond hoped for top 10 (she ended 13th) and Daleman aspired to top 15 (she moved up to 17th after finishing 16th in the free), but this event was meant to be a start, a learning experience for the next one. And they got an eyeful.
For one, Daleman was able to breathe in the advice of bronze medalist Carolina Kostner, who, like her, worked with choreographer Lori Nichol. “She’s a beautiful person,” Daleman said of Kostner, who is 11 years older. “She’s a wonderful skater and I love to watch her.”
Kostner gave Daleman great advice during her trips to Toronto: “Even if the jumps don’t go the way you want, never give up on your program,” Kostner told her. “Always skate with your heart.”
Kostner followed her own advice, skated two high quality programs and finally had the Olympics she wanted, in her third attempt. This bronze was her first medal.
Adelina Sotnikova won to the huge adulation of her home crowd with 224.59 points, defeating defending Olympic champion Yuna Kim, whose routine was one for the ages. Kim finished with 219.11 while Kostner had 216.73. Kostner admitted she was totally spent afterwards.
“It was amazing to be here and honoured to be here,” she said. “It was a dream to skate a dream competition and it happened to be at the Olympic Games.”
Sotnikova was the first Russian/Soviet woman to win the Olympic gold medal and only the fourth to win on home ice, following Madge Syers of Britain in 1908, Carol Heiss in 1960 and Sara Hughes in 2002.
Sotnikova is also the youngest medal winner for Russia in a singles event. At 17 years, 234 days, she smashed Evgeny Plushenko’s mark of 19 years, and 103 days. Her score was the second highest women’ score of all time.
Osmond started her Cleopatra routine, looking as if on fire, landing a triple flip- double toe loop and then nailing a powerful double Axel –triple toe loop. She later doubled a triple flip, and fell on a triple toe loop. But she dusted herself off, and fought on, getting level fours for a layback spin and her step sequence.
Osmond finished with 168.98 points, after earning a season’s best 112.80 in the free. “This is only the second time I’ve competed this program internationally,” Osmond said. “So I’m happy with how it went.”
It wasn’t perfect, but Osmond said it was a big step up from the team event. “I was more comfortable out there today than I was yesterday,” she said. “Today I managed to enjoy myself and execute most of my jumps. I’m satisfied”
After Osmond fell on the triple toe loop, she came back fighting and that in itself is a win. (Witness Mao Asada, after her devastating 16th place finish in the short, returning to deliver the third highest score free skate, enough to finish third in that portion of the event). “I’m happy that I started my Olympic experience with a strong short program in the team event,” Osmond said. “And I finished with a strong free tonight.”
Her Cleopatra routine – in which she emerges beautifully and exotically dressed, is her favourite. “I thought after last year, that I would never love any program more than those, but this program really trumps them.”
Daleman, known for her powerful entrance into the triple Lutz – triple toe loop, made mistakes on it again in the long, as she did in the short. The triple toe loop was deemed to be under-rotated. She singled her triple toe loop that followed a double Axel. But she delivered a three-jump triple flip combo, a triple Lutz, a triple loop and a flying camel spin that got a level four.
She finished with 95.83 points for the free skate, for 148.44 points overall.
What did she learn? “No matter what happens, don’t give up,” she said afterward. “Just keep trying because things can’t always be perfect, so you’ve got to push through and work your hardest.”
They both will be back. Their journeys have only started.
Asada’s free skate was Olympic. After so many years of missing the triple Axel and suffering through a short program on Wednesday, when she fell on it, Asada did not buckle and went for it in the long. She was awarded full rotation of it. It was landed on one foot. She did get under-rotations on two other elements and an edge call on a Lutz, but it didn’t matter. It was the comeback of the ages.
The stoic Asada dissolved in tears and later said: “I was determined to carry out what I’ve been working on all along. I wasn’t that sharp in practice this morning and yesterday was a massive disappointment.
“I owed a lot to those people that supported me over the years, and I wanted to pay them back with a great long program. I wasn’t worried about the score. I had to fight the fear in me. “
That’s what it’s all about.