St. John’s International Airport is certainly not known for being the busiest airport in the world, but anyone arriving Thursday evening may have thought otherwise — the centre of the airport was packed with fans waiting for Kaetlyn Osmond to arrive.
The 2018 World Figure Skating Champion is in the province this weekend for a series of events in her honour.
Osmond landed in St. John’s shortly before 7:30 p.m, but fans trickled into the airport a couple of hours before that. By the time she came down the elevator, there were about two hundred people waiting to welcome her home.
Children carried homemade signs that read “Simply the Best”, a young girl’s “Congrats” helium balloons floated above her head, Marystown mayor Sam Synard clung to a bouquet of red roses, and one young girl held a photo she drew of Osmond earlier that day.
Several St. John’s skating clubs came to the airport together to meet Osmond.
“We came to show our support for Kaetlyn and the wonderful success she’s had this year,” said MaryBeth O’Brien, a parent of a figure skater with the Prince of Wales Skating Club in St. John’s.
“I can see that the young skaters are very eager now that they have a role model, and particularly a role model from Newfoundland,” said O’Brien. “My daughter is only seven years old, but she knows that if she continues to work … that even a little girl from a skating club in Newfoundland can achieve her dreams and be the best figure skater in the world.”
Ten-year-old figure skater Boroka Albert has already met Osmond three times, but she jumped at the chance to see her again Thursday evening. Boroka brought balloons to give to Osmond, and said she looks up to her as a role model. Osmond signed Boroka’s figure skates the last time she saw her, but Boroka has since outgrown them, so she’s brought a second set to get signed again.
“She is devoted to skating and she loves Kaetlyn,” said Boroka’s mother, Judit Lovas.
Young fan Magdalene Holden adores Osmond so much that her mother said she tried to run away to Pyeongchang during the Winter Olympics.
“She had her bags packed,” said Holden’s mother, Emily Deming. “She was going to run away in the middle of the night because she knew it was the opposite time there. So, we actually had to watch her because she tried to run away in the middle of the night to go find a taxi and tell the driver to bring her to see Kaetlyn.”
Naturally, when Deming and her husband heard Osmond would be at the airport, they had to bring their daughter to see her idol.
“This is something that’s really important to her. She picked this role model totally outside of the house or any of our influence, and she just really looks up to her and loves her.”
Magdalene said she’s “very excited” about meeting Osmond.
“I’ve never met her before and I wanted a chance to see her because one of the Olympics people said that she was the best skater in the world.”
But it wasn’t just young figure skaters — young and old alike showed up to show their support for the Marystown native.
Married couple June McLennan and Jim Hammond stood together waiting to catch a glimpse of Osmond.
“I lost many hours of sleep to watch her skating on television, so now I wanted to see her in person,” said McLennan. “I think it’s exciting. She’s so established worldwide and known.”
Near the couple sat Eric Snow, who said he told his personal care attendant that he’d love to come support Osmond and welcome her back home after her achievements this year.
“It’s an amazing thing to be from a little town and go and be the world champion. It’s awesome. I think she’s unbelievable, and this is a part of our history,” he said.
Not everyone at the airport came with the intention of seeing Osmond, though. Heather Price and Olive Herridge were there to pick up a friend flying in from Halifax, but when they got word that Osmond was arriving, too, they dropped everything and waited near the elevators with everyone else.
“Our friend is on the back burner now,” they joked.
After some laughs, the two said they really do plan to wait with everyone else to see Osmond before they leave the airport with their friend.
“It’s not every day you get a chance to meet someone so amazing.”