Tragedy hits home with Canada’s Joannie Rochette


To say Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette will be skating with a heavy heart Tuesday would be an understatement.

The 24-year-old was given the shocking news that her mother, Therese Rochette, 55, died of a heart attack Sunday morning, two days before she was scheduled to compete in the women’s figure skating event.

Just hours later, Rochette was seen practicing on the ice with her father Normand, grief stricken with emotion, watching on from the stands.

“Joannie is a very courageous person, and just to be here in the practice hall, I was very impressed,” said Canadian skater Cynthia Phaneuf, who practiced with Rochette. “I think she is doing the right thing.”

The six-time defending Canadian champion has told officials she expects to take to the ice Tuesday night, when the women’s short program begins.

“She won’t get any better staying in her room, said Phaneuf. “It shows how strong she is. It shows that she is a person to look up to here.”

Rochette passed away after being rushed to the Vancouver General Hospital around 6 a.m. Sunday, one day after arriving to watch her daughter compete in the Games.

The Ile-Dupas, Que., native entered these Games as a serious podium threat, having placed fifth in the 2006 Turin Games and winning silver at the 2009 World Championships.

Skate Canada officials have told reporters that Rochette will remain silent until after the competition.

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