Ladies' figure skating: Rochette wins the bronze -

Ladies’ figure skating: Rochette wins the bronze

Yu-Na claims gold with world record performance


rochette wins bronzeThe gold medal in ladies’ figure skating belongs, wholly and authoritatively, to Kim Yu-Na of South Korea – but at the Pacific Coliseum tonight, the crowd belonged to Joannie Rochette. Completing her program to thunderous applause, Rochette skated a small circle and blew a kiss to the sky as flowers fell to the ice from above.

On Sunday, Thérèse Rochette died from a heart attack at 55. Tonight, her daughter Joannie won bronze at the Winter Games. “I’m so proud,” Rochette said later, touching the medal around her neck. “I know this: My Mom was with me every step of the way tonight.”

Fifith in Turin, Rochette had been waiting four years for tonight’s four minutes. Competing to Samson and Delilah by Camille Saint-Saëns, the Canadian skater took to the ice attired in something blue, skimpy and sparkly – basically, what a girl would wear in a rap video had rap been invented by Liberace. Rochette wasn’t flawless, but her athletic and casually energetic performance gave her third place by a comfortable margin, just behind Mao Asada of Japan, who took silver.

Neither finished within a rink’s length of Yu-Na, who turned in a world record performance, scoring 150.06 in the free skate – a number that in the arena prompted gasps: the good kind, not the someone-just-fell-down-again kind. (Asada, by comparison, earned 131.72 points.) Yu-Na is coached by Brian Orser, who clapped hard and pumped his fists along the boards as his pupil nailed jump after perfect jump. “It’s her medal, but I do feel like I’m part of this gold,” Orser said. “It’s so surreal. And it’s so satisfying.”

Aside from its emotional tentpole – provided with grace and muted outward sentiment by Rochette – and the astonishing performance from Yu-Na, the night was a mixed affair: a bland opening half, received quietly by the crowd, followed after the break by a few electrifying programs, including one from Akiko Suzuki of Japan, who according to the Olympics website is 24 years old but looks as though she arrived straight from the ball room at IKEA. (She came into the night in 11th and finished eighth.)

The flipside: Carolina Kostner of Italy, ranked seventh after the short program, fell approximately 386 times and scored roughly the same number of points that Orser would have tallied for peeling off his uniform and streaking across the ice. Kostner wound up 16th. Skating from 14th position, Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que., fell once and muffed another jump. But her performance was received enthusiastically by the sold-out crowd, and she ended up 12th.

For Rochette now, the Olympics are over. This full, fleeting moment of chaos, pressure and routine has passed. She has achieved her goal as a skater. Ahead there is only time, and the hard road of grief.


Ladies’ figure skating: Rochette wins the bronze

  1. Another great article.

    Not knowing a sport may promote a simple unbiased observation of people and their achievements. That quality certainly showed here.

  2. Say, just curious. Throughout your stint at the Olympics, have you heard, anyone (apart from some frustrated Pepsi marketing intern) yelling out the new national cheer: "Eh! O' Canada-Go!"

    Why not try it a few times in a crowd, and see what type of reaction you get?

  3. Full props to Alex Bilodeau for the first gold and all, but I truly hope that if she's up to it they let her carry the flag at the closing ceremony. What an inspiring performance.

  4. I don't think you'll get much argument on that suggestion. As one of Scott's colleagues at another publication put it after her short program: "The motherless young woman is every Canadian's daughter right now." (DiManno, TSTAR).

  5. LOL

    Do NOT try that Feschuk.

    Dot's trying to set you up for a beat down.

  6. I had the same thought. If she feels up to it, I don't see any way that she's not the runaway number one choice to carry the flag in the closing ceremonies. If it's OK with Joannie, I don't think a single person on the planet would argue with that choice.

  7. Wasn't that stupid cheer a Pepsi thing? The Olympics are the domain of Coke. If I even typed the words "Eh! O' Canada-Go!" I would probably be— <bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz> — yep, electroshock.

    • Should be nominated for the "Grace Under Pressure Award"

  8. It was indeed a Pepsi thing, and I'm not sure it was chanted, ever, after the one game at the World Juniors where Pepsi was actually filming the television commercial (and the crowd presumably felt obliged, and/or were given large amounts of free Pepsi products for their cooperation). I wonder if that cheer was ever used in any circumstances not being directly prompted by a Pepsi ad guy?

    You might be interested to know that the Facebook group "The 'Eh! Oh! Canada Go!' chant is a national embarrassment", has 97,666 members.

  9. Agreed, although she may be leaving Vancouver right away.

    Regardless, Canada could win gold in every event the rest of the way and this bronze would still be the performance of the Games.

  10. It was a lovely tribute to her mother, I cried the whole time, couldn't help it !

  11. Even I, who was personally boycotting by not watching this over-blown, over-priced spectacle as my own little protest, had to watch Joannie skate both her short & long program. I thought she personified grace & dignity quite beautifully for one so young. Her mom would be proud.

    (I must make the point that my spouse has been watching the whole thing quite religiously so I have had no choice about listening to it unless I was going to vacate my home for the duration.)

  12. I can't believe even now that Rochette's performance was more than 200 score, almost the same as Mao Asada.
    The judges obviously inflated her scores by the fact that "She is skating. What a lovely tribute to her mother. I feel sorry for her…". in judges' and audiences' minds…
    Her performance was not close to Mao Asada, even Miki Ando or Mirai Nagasu at all. Miki Ando or Mirai Nagasu should have won Bronze.
    To be honest, if her mother had not died, Rochette would not have won a medal (She should have been in the fifth place to be fair). But anyone can't say the "fact" because the truth sometimes hurts people's feeling…