Canadian figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond was forced to pull out of the Skate Canada International grand prix Saturday, after a hamstring injury left her unable to perform.
Osmond, of Marystown, Nfld., sat fifth after Friday's short program. But heading into Saturday's free skate, nagging hamstring pain that has dogged her in recent years flared up, making it impossible to compete.
"It is an injury that I've had before, a few years ago. And it sometimes comes back but usually not this badly," Osmond said. "We've already started planning for treatment when I come back starting on Monday."
Julia Lipnitskaia, the youngest skater in the competition at 15, won the event with 198.23 total points over the two-day competition in Saint John, N.B. After placing second in Friday's free skate, Lipnitskaia's top score of 131.34 in the long program was a demonstration of the confidence the precocious skater is quickly becoming known for on the international skating circuit ahead of the Sochi Olympics.
"I'm never really thinking about winning," said Lipnitskaia, who has been skating since she was four years old. "Today, I'm very happy because I did everything in my program. Everything worked out. The last spin worked out, which is the most important thing for me."
Japan's Akiko Suzuki, who at 28 is almost double the Russian skater's age, placed second with 193.75 points, including 127.99 in the free skate. Gracie Gold of the United Skates, who sat first after Friday's short program, fell on one jump and placed a hand on the ice after another, which dropped her to third place with a total score of 186.65 points, including 117.20 in the free skate.
Osmond, 17, has risen quickly up the Canadian figure skating ranks after a breakthrough season last year in which she nabbed a surprise eighth place finish at the World Championships and a victory at Skate Canada, not long after moving up from the junior skating circuit. With less than four months to go until the Sochi Olympics, Osmond is Canada's leading contender in the women's event, and a key piece of the team event, which will make its debut at the Games.
Already this season, though, Osmond has been battling injuries. Less than a month ago she was wearing a walking cast as a precautionary measure for some pain she felt in her ankle, which was determined to be a precursor to a stress fracture. While she has been watching that injury closely, and modifying her training to not aggravate the ankle pain, she said the hamstring flare-up was unexpected.
"It's not an injury that often came back. I felt it maybe once or twice a year, but usually it went away after a few hours, but it hasn't done that now," she said. "It's not bone stress, and it's nothing muscular. We're not 100 per cent sure what it is. It's just a bit of hamstring pain I guess."
"I'm obviously disappointed that I won't be able to do my long program. Even with my ankle injury, I was training off the ice. And when I came back I was really set on coming here and showing the program was well trained… My long program is my favourite program, and that's the one I wanted to show everyone."
Osmond said she is optimistic she will be ready for her next international competition, about a month from now in Russia.
Osmond's decision to pull out of the long program left Amelie Lacoste, of Delson, Que., and Veronik Mallet, of Sept-Îles, Que., as Canada's representatives in the competition. Mallet placed eighth with a total score of 138.13. Lacoste, who sat sixth after short skate, fell on a double axel near the end of her program, leaving with a total score of 163.11. With Osmond's withdrawal, that score was good enough to move Lacoste up to fifth.
"It wasn't a perfect performance. I did a lot of little mistakes, especially the last double axel at the end," Lacoste said. "It was a very silly mistake. Usually I don't do that in practice. So I just need to work on keeping my focus together. And even if I'm missing a jump, just regroup and focus on the other elements."
Lacoste is in the midst of completely revamping her training routine and preparations for Sochi. Less than three weeks ago she moved from Quebec to Denver to train with Damon Allen and Christy Krall, who is Patrick Chan's former coach. In the whirlwind move, Lacoste also moved into Chan's former condo in Denver, which he vacated this summer to train in Detroit.
The move is designed to expose Lacoste to more competition from skaters in Denver, compared to training in Quebec where she often skated alone. Lacoste said he already is feeling the impact of training at a higher altitude in Colorado.
"I noticed it a lot. At the end… I wasn't even tired. Even my choreographed sequence, a month ago I was so tired. But in my program I wasn't tired at all," Lacoste said. "The change of coach, the change of place of training, it was a lot to handle in very few days. I've only been there for two and a half weeks, so I'm still proud of myself."