As Joannie Rochette skated her way onto the ice for the most difficult performance of her life, the hometown crowd embraced the courageous skater with roars of encouragement after the hearing of the passing of her mother two days prior.
Despite the devastation, the heroic Rochette decided to compete in the competition and was found training just hours after discovering her mother had died of a massive heart attack.
“I think she is doing the right thing,” Canadian teammate Cynthia Phaneuf told the New York Times. “It shows how strong she is. It shows that she is a person to look up to here.”
Everyone in the Pacific Coliseum, as well as television viewers across the country, watched in suspense and admiration on Tuesday night while the Canadian princess skated to the classic tango song, La Cumparista.
The Ile Dupas, Que., native, who is Canada’s best hope for a gold medal in women’s Olympic figure skating, gave a focused and precise performance as she nailed both the triple lutz-double toe loop and triple flip.
As the crowd watched the unthinkable taking place, they joined in and clapped along to the upbeat Spanish song to give the daring Rochette some much needed added confidence.
Soon as the music stopped, the bouquets began to flood the ice, while a sobbing Rochette was filled with emotions after skating for the first time in her life without her mother watching.
The moment she stepped off the ice, an emotional Rochette fell into the arms of coach Manon Perron who gave her a hug .
When the score of 71.36 appeared on the screen, a personal best and a third place score for Rochette, tears came pouring down the 24-year-old’s face.
Undoubtedly, one of the most rousing moments in sports, the six-time national champion now moves on to the free skate as a strong medal contender and a Canadian inspiration.
Mao Asada, four-time Japanese national champion, started to heat up the competition as she landed her triple axel and became the second woman in Olympic history to ever accomplish such a feat.
Her score of 73.78 had her in first place, putting the pressure on Yu-Na Kim of Korea, who skated next.
Kim, the reigning world champion, was not the least bit intimidated by the likes of Asada as she easily landed a triple-triple combination to a James Bond medley.
The Olympic gold medal favourite scored a 78.50, crushing Asada’s previous score and breaking a world record.
Coach Brian Orser hugged the Korean Sensation in awe and was proud that his skating prodigy had achieved the greatest of standards, setting the bar high.
“She just did what she normally does,” said Orser to CTV Sports about Kim’s performance. “I think any judge on any panel would lean toward that style and that choreography because of the thought put into it.”
Currently in fourth is Japan’s Miki Ando who was the last skater of the night. The 2007 Japanese world champion scored a 64.76, just six points away from medal contention.
Canadian Cynthia Phaneuf started off her routine smoothly but unfortunately slipped and fell to the ice in embarrassment.
The blunder automatically cost the Contrecoeur, Que., native a mandatory one point deduction and she finished with a score of 57.16, good enough for 14th overall.
“That stupid fall,” the Olympic rookie said. “I was feeling so good out there. The crowd was amazing. It never happens to me. I couldn’t forget it when the program was over. It wasn’t even a jump, it was just stupid. I was so disappointed.”
In fifth place is Rachael Flatt of the U.S. who scored a season best 64.64, while her American teammate Nagasu Mirai, the surprise skater of the night, is right behind her in sixth after the short program.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner, the three-time European champion, rounds off the group of heavy contenders as she currently sits in seventh place with a score of 63.02.