Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tragedy strikes Rochette

The mother of Canadian figure skating champion and Olympic medal hopeful Joannie Rochette died suddenly in Vancouver Sunday morning, shortly after arriving to watch her daughter compete.

Canadian team officials said Thérèse Rochette passed away after being rushed to Vancouver General Hospital.

Cause of the death has not been determined. She was 55.

Joannie Rochette was given the news by her father Normand at the Olympic Village this morning.

Officials said Ms. Rochette intends to compete at the Olympics, despite the shock of her mother's death.

Ms. Rochette's parents had arrived Saturday from Montreal.

The skater is currently closeted with friends and family, sharing in the grief.
Officials described her mood as focused and determined to compete.
The Rochette family is from the tiny town of Ile-Dupas, Que.

In her journal on Oct. 26, 2008, Rochette described her mother as an important critic of her skating.

"My mom, who was always close to me, took more distance from my skating for the last couple of years,'' Rochette wrote in 2008. "I was missing her input and support as well as her approach to getting more and more solid with my elements.

"She has always been the most critical person about my skating, pushing me harder to improve.

"Even if it requires quite a big deal of humility at 22 to admit you need more of your mother, I expressed it and she drives from home to St-Leonard once a week to come to supervise with her unique eyes my training."

Canadian chef de mission Nathalie Lambert choked with emotion as she expressed condolences to the Rochette family Sunday.

"It has actually just happened this morning," Ms. Lambert told reporters. "It's very emotional for me, and all of us, today."

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