Friday, February 12, 2016

Rochette: French for "Strength"

Forget Sidney Crosby.

Rochette: French for "Strength"


             Forget Sidney Crosby.

 Joannie Rochette is Canada’s hero on ice.

 Rochette last night honored her mother’s memory with a bronze medal in the marquee event of these Games. More than that, she reminded medal-desperate Canada that it is more important to simply seek personal excellence than to Own the Podium.

 Over and over last night, in the wake of her mother's death, Rochette said she resisted the pull of her hometown in Quebec, stayed in Vancouver and skated for herself.

 For Canada, yes; for her mother, Therese, who died here Sunday of a heart attack, yes.

 But first, for herself.

 “I really wanted to skate here. For respect for myself, for how hard I had worked. … My mother always told me to do it for myself,” said Rochette, who will stay through the Games' end Sunday. “She always wanted me to be a strong person.”

 Rochette finished third, almost 30 points behind the record 228.56 set by Korean favorite Yu-Na Kim but just 2.86 points behind Japanese disappointment Mao Asada.

 When Rochette finished her routine she blew a one-handed kiss to the crowd. She tossed a two-handed kiss to the heavens. She received her third-place score and waited to see if Mirai Nagasi, the final competitor and America’s hope for a medal, could unseat her. Nagasi fell 12.49 short.

 The sellout crowd at the Pacific Coliseum erupted. Rochette held it together.

 Through the medal ceremony and endless interviews, Rochette remained composed, for almost an hour.

 “I wanted to skate, to make my mother proud – and my father, who was in the crowd,” she said.

 “I couldn’t skate tonight as Joannie, the person; I had to skate as Joannie, the athlete,” she said.

 “It wasn’t easy to see my mother … ” and there, she backed away from the microphone, that image too much. But just for a moment. She dried her eyes, and returned:

 “I realize people are inspired by this. I don’t see myself as a hero, or anything like that.”

 She’s the only one.

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About this blog

SAM DONNELLON's career began in Biddeford, Me., in 1981, and has included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Norfolk, and New York, where he worked as a national writer for the short-lived but highly acclaimed National Sports Daily. He has received state and national awards at each stop and since joining the Daily News in 1992 has been honored by the Associated Press Sports Editors, the National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the Associated Press Managing Editors of Pennsylvania and the Keystone Awards. He and his wife have raised three fine children, none of whom are even the least bit impressed with the above. Sam is veteran of Olympics coverage for the Daily News, including the Games in Sydney and Turin, among others.

MARCUS HAYES grew up on a small farm outside of Hermon, NY., a small town near the Canadian border about the size of Reading Terminal Market. In high school he played three varsity sports and aspired to be faster, or more skilled, or taller. Having failed in those aspirations and seeking a warmer climate, Marcus attended Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and eventually graduated with a degree in Magazine Writing. He also earned a degree in English from the College of Arts and Sciences. To date he has written for no magazines. His English is spotty at best. Upon graduation in 1990, with Jim Boeheim's talent-leaden SU basketball teams having won no titles, Marcus spent 4½ years working for the now-absorbed Syracuse Herald-Journal covering high school sports, local small college sports and non-revenue sports at SU. Marcus joined the Daily News as a feature story writer in 1995. Among other assignments he has covered the Eagles and Phillies beats for most of his tenure. Still, the paper soldiers on.

Sam Donnellon and Marcus Hayes
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