NEWS
01/21/2016 16:24 EST | Updated 01/21/2017 00:12 EST

Osmond out to reclaim Canadian title after missing last season with broken leg

HALIFAX — At this time last year, Kaetlyn Osmond was on vacation in Mexico, on a self-imposed exile from the figure skating world.

She'd left her cellphone and laptop back in Edmonton. And when Gabrielle Daleman won the Canadian women's title, Osmond purposely wasn't paying attention.

"Missing it was really, really hard. So I actually disappeared for a week so I didn't have to deal with it," Osmond said.

The two-time national champion is out to reclaim her Canadian title this week at the Scotiabank Centre, continuing her return from a gruesome broken leg that knocked her out for all of last season, and had her wondering if she'd ever skate again.

"When I heard the severity of it, I thought that was it, that was all I could handle," Osmond said.

She broke the fibula in her right leg in two places in September of 2014, when she swerved to avoid hitting someone in practice. The X-ray showed the bones snapped "crooked and sideways."

She underwent two surgeries, the second of which — to remove the plate and seven screws holding the bone together — was a couple of days after her return from Mexico. 

"I was scared to even step on my leg, let alone even try to skate again," Osmond said. "And when I got back on the ice, my first couple of steps, my blade just shook underneath me. It took me about two weeks before I could even do a three turn (turning from forward to backward) again.

"So it was a long time coming, but I'm back."

The 20-year-old, who has both an arena and a rink named after her in her hometown of Marystown, N.L., said she's feeling "as close to 100 per cent a I think I'm ever going to be."

The one lingering sign of her injury is her mangled Olympic tattoo. Surgeons had to cut through the tattoo to repair her broken leg, slicing through one of the Olympic rings.

Osmond, who was eighth at the 2013 world championships and 13th at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, said her injury was a massive emotional struggle, but her coach Ravi Walia constantly reminded her of the progress she was making — no matter how tiny the steps forward.

"Every day I thought about something new that I did. The first time I did a three-turn I was really excited, the first time I could do a waltz jump (the first jump young skaters learn) was really good," she said. "I cared about the little things more than dealing with the bigger picture."

Osmond has been plagued by a series of injuries over the past couple of seasons. A stress reaction in her foot and a torn hamstring sidelined her for a good chunk of the early 2013-14 season.

At Skate Canada this past October, she sprained an ankle in practice, then fell awkwardly into a full splits in her short program, injuring her hip flexor and groin. She still skated her long program, and finished 11th overall, an event she'd won in 2012.

"I guess just don't have the body cut out for a figure skater, even though I force it to be a figure skater," laughed Osmond. "It tends to disagree with me quite often."

Osmond fared better at her second Grand Prix of the season, finishing sixth at the NHK Trophy in Japan in late November.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press