Gabrielle Daleman fought through pneumonia Saturday to win the Canadian national figure skating title.
Skating on her 20th birthday and only eight months after emergency surgery for an abdominal cyst, Daleman had the crowd roaring with her skate to Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Daleman landed seven triple jumps and finished with a Canadian-record 229.78 points. After topping the short program Friday, she scored 151.90 points in the free skate.
“You become way more grateful for what you’re able to do and how lucky you are when you can’t do it, and that’s what’s really changed me this past year,” Daleman said. “I said (Friday) that was the way to end 19 . . . this is the way to start 20. It is the absolute best birthday present I could ever ask for.”
Daleman had been battling chest congestion for a couple of weeks and was diagnosed with pneumonia Thursday. Unable to sleep Friday, she called her boyfriend back in Toronto at midnight, finally falling asleep around 1:30 a.m., and then had a 4:30 a.m. wakeup call for a hair and makeup session and a morning practice. The illness and fatigue certainly wasn’t noticeable in her powerful skating and huge jumps, and her score that topped Kaetlyn Osmond’s Canadian record by about 10 points.
“I didn’t even care that I couldn’t breathe, I just skated from my heart,” she said.