Grieving Joannie Rochette Skates Personal Best


Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette burst into tears after she finished her short program. Not because it was a clean routine, but because of the tragedy she had to overcome to perform it.


Skating just two days after her mother, Therese, died of a heart attack at age 55, Rochette paid tribute to the person who encouraged her to skate with an emotional performance at the Winter Olympics Tuesday, showing incredible composure and nerve during her tango-inspired number. She fought back tears when she took to the ice, but when the final note ended, the 24-year-old broke down and placed her hand over her heart while the hometown fans gave her a standing ovation. Her father, Normand, cried in the stands.


After bowing to all corners, Rochette skated off the ice and collapsed into the arms of her coach, Manon Perron. The six-time Canadian champion continued to cry as her marks came up: 71.36, a personal best.


The strong showing landed Rochette in third place for the time being. South Korea's Kim Yu-Na, the heavy favorite, set a new world record 78.50 points for her James Bond routine. Japan's Mao Asada stands in second place with 73.86 points. Her teammate, Miki Ando, is in fourth place, followed by Americans Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu, respectively.


The ladies' free skate takes place Thursday.


Winners of the day included Canada's Ashleigh McIvor in women's ski cross, Switzerland's Carlo Janka in the men's slalom, Russia in the 4 x 6-km biathlon relay, Austria in the team cross-country (long hill) and South Korea's Lee Seung-Hoon in the 10,000-meter long track speed skating.


Lee won the gold after world-record holder and three-time world champion Sven Kramer of The Netherlands was disqualified for illegally changing lanes on the incorrect advice of his coach, Gerard Kemkers.


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