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After Olympics, Clarenville woman reflects on life as a figure skating fan

Margaret Randell.
Margaret Randell. - Jonathan Parsons

‘Kaetlyn inspired me’

CLARENVILLE, NL — When Margaret Randell was watching Kaetlyn Osmond’s bronze medal-winning Olympic skate last Thursday night, she says she was so nervous she could hardly look at the screen.

“Kaetlyn did so well. I love her skating,” Randell told the Packet. “I stayed up by myself until 1:30 a.m. and watched it. I just had to — in my heart, I just had to do it.”

Corrine and Beverly.
Corrine and Beverly.

Randell says throughout the performance she peeked through her fingers and paced the floors.

“Next to her mother, I’d say I cried the most watching her,” she says. “You wouldn’t know if she was my own.”

Randell’s fandom and connection to figure skating goes back many years — all the way back to Barbara Ann Scott. She says the Canadian Olympic champion figure skater sparked her love affair with the sport in the 1950s, one she maintains to this day. Scott won the female Olympic skating championship in Switzerland in 1948.

Randell says she hardly ever skated herself — just to steal and strap on her brother’s skates on the pond in Bishop’s Cove, Conception Bay in her youth.

But in the years following and during her nurses’ training, she didn’t have a television but would avidly watch figure skating on a small black and white set in the nursing lounge when she could.

“I was blown away with the figure skating,” she remembers. “It was my passion.”

In the ‘60s and ‘70s, her own daughters — Beverly and Corrine (a.k.a. “Pixie”) — went on to love the sport as much as their mother does. They both competed as skaters in Clarenville throughout their young lives and beyond.

“I just loved it. I used to be on the (figure skating) committee back then too.”

Randell credits figure skating pioneer Elizabeth Swann for enabling them to have outstanding careers in the sport.

“Mrs. Swann was like a mother, almost,” recalls Randell. She says Swann did it all for Bev and Pixie — fitted them for skates, coached and even lined up summer training in Niagara Falls.

Randell lovingly chronicled her girls’ years in skating, collecting photos and collages over the years.

Beverly as a coach.
Beverly as a coach.

Both Bev and Corrine continue to skate to this day. Bev was a figure skating coach for 36 years until she retired this past year, and she continues to make figure skating costumes.

Randell’s granddaughter Alison and her great-niece Sidney also skate today. Alison recently won gold in a synchro event in Mount Pearl.

Along with her photos of family skaters, Randell has lovingly placed a newspaper photo of Osmond following her medal-worthy skate last week.

While she also enjoyed the other Olympic events, Randell says Osmond, in particular, inspired her.

“The gala on Sunday where she skated to ‘Hallelujah’ I was here by myself and I cried all through it, because it brought back all the memories for me. I loved her skating.”

Randell says it would mean everything for her to be able to see Osmond skate at the Eastlink Events Centre in Clarenville. She remembers when former Canadian World Champion figure skater Karen Magnussen came to town. The visit is among her collection of memories — photos with both Bev and Pixie. She’d love to see something similar this time, she says.

“I feel that closeness to (Kaetlyn).

“And it all goes back to Barbara Ann Scott,” laughed Randell with a tear in her eye.

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Karen Magnussen and Corrine.
Karen Magnussen and Corrine.

Jonathan.parsons@thepacket.ca

Twitter: @jejparsons

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