Last night all eyes were on the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver for the most watched event of the Winter Olympics……..women’s figure skating. You expect performances that take your breathe away. Performances that show guts. Performances that show perfection. But audiences got to witness something so much more on Tuesday night…….. the “will” of 24 year old Canadian skater Joannie Rochette. Two days before the short program Joannie Rochette’s mother, Therese 54, died suddenly of a heart attack. The woman who was Joannie’s biggest fan was gone.
“I always encouraged her to have confidence in herself, to believe in her dreams.”
“The hurdles she faces motivate her to rise above them, Joannie has always been naturally determined and persevering.”
Those are the words of a mother who loved and believed in her daughter.
Most athletes would have given up their Olympic dream at that point. Not Rochette. She excelled. Landing all of her jumps with precision and displaying the intricate footwork on all the technical elements, the Canadian skater put up her best short program score ever, 71.36. As the music finished Rochette broke down at center ice with her hand over her heart. The crowd gave her a standing ovation. This was THE moment of the Winter Games. The ability by one woman to put courage, determination, and emotion on display for all to see. The ability to show the world that no matter what life deals you, YOU can rise above. While receiving her scores she looked into the camera sobbing,
“Maman,” she said in her native French, over and over. “Maman, maman.”
I’m sure her mother was smiling down upon her. Beaming with pride that her daughter was able to give a gift to the world far bigger than 71.36.
Tune in tomorrow night for the women’s free skate and see if Joannie Rochette can duplicate her performance and stand atop the podium.