Canada's Rising Star May Pose Challenge to Kim Yu-na

Kaetlyn Osmond Kaetlyn Osmond

Kaetlyn Osmond is the latest darling of Canadian ladies' figure skating. The 18-year-old won her first national title last weekend with the total score of 201.34 points.

Even though the score is not officially recognized by the International Skating Union, as the event is not sanctioned by the sport's governing body, it still serves as a significant launch pad for this promising new talent.

Osmond's progress in the last year has been nothing short of remarkable. Until last season, when she was competing in the junior circuit, she kept missing out on podium finishes at international competitions. She finished 10th at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Belarus last February with 146.25 points, behind Korea's Kim Hae-jin, who ranked eighth with 149.71 points.

But the Canadian went through a dramatic transformation upon joining the senior circuit. She won the 2012 Nebelhorn Trophy in September in Germany with 170.19 points and bagged another winner's trophy at Skate Canada in October with 176.45 points, scores that quickly put her in the spotlight.

She carried on the momentum to emerge as a figure skating star in Canada. Prior to her senior debut, Osmond did a lot of training off the ice, such as pilates, gymnastics and even ballet training. She often starts the day with a series of exercises from 5 a.m.

Canada now expects her to be a strong contender for this year's World Championships in Ontario, Canada in March, as well as at next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She is already being touted as a potential successor to Joannie Rochette, Canada's bronze medalist at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada competes in the ladies free program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition in Windsor on Oct. 27, 2012. /Reuters Kaetlyn Osmond of Canada competes in the ladies free program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition in Windsor on Oct. 27, 2012. /Reuters

Two Asian skaters took gold medals at the last two Olympics -- Shizuka Arakawa of Japan in Turin in 2006 and Korea's Kim Yu-na in Vancouver in 2010. But North America and Europe, which have traditionally dominated the sport, hope to reclaim the top honor in Sochi.

Tara Lipinski and Sarah Hughes, American figure skaters who won the 1998 and 2002 Olympic gold medals, respectively, were both surprise winners who rose to the top in the season just before the Olympics. This is why Kim, who is aiming to defend her Olympic title, needs to beware of rising young stars like Osmond.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 23, 2013 10:38 KST