Athletes tend to pay a little more attention when a world champion is speaking to them.
Nelson Skating Club head coach Sarah Gower noticed this as soon as her skaters began taking direction from retired Canadian figure skating star Kaetlyn Osmond.
“It’s funny, because we might say the same thing to the skaters and they sort of listen, but if it comes out of her mouth, they’re like, ‘oh!’ They really pay attention.”
Osmond, who won three Olympic medals and was the first Canadian in 45 years to win ladies singles at the 2018 World Championships, is working with young skaters for a week at the Nelson and District Community Complex.
While her words may carry a touch more weight than Gowers, Osmond says it doesn’t take long for athletes to relax around her.
“I think when they spend more than two minutes with me, they realize I joke a lot and make fun of people a lot along with myself, and that kind of loosens it up around them and they realize I’m more of a human than terrifying.”
The club was able to invite Osmond thanks to a personal connection with coach Jordyn Eberts – the pair previously trained in Edmonton together.
Osmond said she has been helping with skaters one-on-one, conducting practice drills and would also talk to them about how she dealt with issues such as competition nerves.
By the end of the week, she said she hopes to see the skaters had made a little progress with their own goals.
“Miracles don’t happen in a week. I just like to see if the light switch goes off. They might not even be able to land something new or do something new, but even if something just makes that little tiny bit more sense, that’s as much as I can get out of it. And that’s super rewarding for me.”
Since retiring in 2019 at 23 years old, Osmond has taken part in shows such as Stars on Ice while pursuing a media studies degree at Edmonton’s University of Alberta. Eventually she hopes to make a career in radio broadcasting.
Coaching has been the biggest surprise of her post-competition life. It wasn’t something she wanted to do — Osmond admits being pushed into it by a friend — yet mentoring young skaters has restored love for the sport she says had in part been lost once her career was over.
Now she’s juggling a full-time coaching job with her studies.
“To be able to go back into the world and see there’s still joy in a lot of younger skaters and watching them try to live their dream, it kind of gives me purpose in skating, which is amazing.”
It doesn’t hurt that they are learning from one of the best.