Saturday, 23/6/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Rochette Ralies Back with Rock-Solid Skate

Canadian Champion Joannie Rochette rebounded Saturday from a disappointing short program that left her in second place at the Canadian Championships in Saskatoon. The Grand Prix Finalist knows how to overcome adversity. She had practice last month in Korea. She found herself in last place after her short program at the Grand Prix Final was a disaster. The Canadian proved at that event exactly what she was made of. The four-time Canadian Champion powered back with a third place free skate and finished the event in fourth place overall. That experience was an invaluable lesson.

Joannie entered the free skate in second place after a disappointing short program on Friday. They say experience is the best teacher and Rochette has learned her lesson well. Tthe Four Continents silver medalist proved she has the meintal toughness to rise to the top of the sport.

“It was not an easy thing after yesterday,” Rochette said with relief. But I showed I was much stronger mentally than I ever thought. That was important to me.”

Rochette took to the ice. Neatly dressed in teal. As Joannie took off for her opening move a triple Lutz/ double toe/double loop combination, she looked extremely focused. The 23-year-old nailed the jumps and they were beauties. She then reeled off two more jumps, a triple flip and a triple loop which were followed by two gorgeous spins. That was just the first half of the program. During the second half, the Skate Canada and Trophee Bompard Champion delivered four additional triples (a triple Lutz, a triple toe + triple Salchow sequence, and a solo triple Salchow) plus a double Axel + double Axel sequence.

Her tough as nails presentation to “Adagio from Concierto de Aranjuez” was exquisite. It was so inspiring that even World Champion Mao Asada or World bronze medalist Yu-Na Kim would have had to stop and take notice — had they been in the building. The choreography, the costume, the detail was simply amazing. It was truly the whole package. Her spins, her steps were just outstanding and just seemed to meld with the music.

The audience sat mesmerized throughout the program and then popped to their feet before Canada’s ice queen completed her final element.

Joannie covered her face at the end and then pumped her fists in the air. After four minutes it was over and then came the sigh of relief. It was a huge score of 131.77 points for the Champion — one she had never received before.

“After yesterday it was very hard, and I was very sad and disappointed,” Rochette stated. “I just put myself in the toughest position I’ve ever had to skate in. Really even today I still was not in a good mood minutes before I went on the ice, I was so nervous I was shaking.”

Rochette claimed the gold medal with an event total of 185.35 points. The now five-time Ladies Champion finished the competition with a massive 34 point lead ahead of her closest competitor.

Overnight leader Cynthia Phaneuf skated last and stood on the side-lines as her long-time rival completed her final elements. The 2004 National Champion admitted that before she skated, she knew she was skating for second place.

Phaneuf looked radiant as she took her opening pose. She stood there for a moment stunningly attired in a sleek and sophisticated turquoise dress. Head up, dazzling eyes, and every hair in place.

Phaneuf looked determined when she reeled off a strong triple toe + double Axel sequence. However, then nerves kicked in and she under-rotated and fell on the triple flip. She hit the triple loop, but her ankle collapsed causing her to fall on a triple flip and then she suffered another fall on a triple Salchow. Rather than give up the 21-year-old from Contreccoeur, Quebec persevered and landed a triple Lutz and a triple toe/double toe/double loop combination. Her spins were low-fast-and-well-centered.

“I was very excited, it wasn’t an easy skate for me, I had to fight until the end,” the 21-year-old explained. “And to skate right after Joannie was very tough for me, and I had to really focus myself. I’m very proud of myself.”

Phaneuf’s presence, musicality and sophistication on the ice are all highlights and were clearly reflected in her component mark of 53.80 points. When combined with her technical score of 45.46 points Cynthia captured the silver medal with a free skating score of 96.26 points and an event total of 151.42 points.

“My goal was to finish second,” Phaneuf told the media. “I’m very happy about my skating. It was a very difficult skate for me. Of course I heard Joannie’s scores and it made me a little nervous.”

Amelie Lacoste, of Delson, Quebec, rocketed past her old seasons best score of 76.65 points when she laid claim to the bronze medal with a score of 89.46 points for her free skate and an event total of 143.01 points.

Lacoste, had a shaky start to her musical Flamenco free skate. She stepped out on the final jump of her triple loop/double toe/double loop combination, singled her flip and then doubled her Salchow and her loop.

However, the last half of her program was rock solid. The 20-year-old produced a clean as a whistle triple loop/double loop combination, triple Salchow, and a double Axel + double toe sequence.

Her choreography which she assists with, was intricate and paid attention to detail. Her non-jumping elements were all level four except for the straight line steps which were awarded level three.

“My program started rough,” Lacoste explained. “But as the program went on, I got my focus back so I finished very strong, and I’m very happy.”

2006 Junior Champion Diane Szmiett put on a performance she can be proud of and clenched a spot on Canada’s national team. The bubbly 18-year-old from Watford, Ontario had a support system with her like no other.

She opened her program to “La Farrucas” with a solid triple toe before falling on an under-rotated triple Lutz. Her double Axel + double Axel sequence was strong but she then fell on a triple flip. She nailed the triple toe/double toe combination and muscled through a triple Salchow and a double Axel. She completed the event in fourth place with 135.84 points after placing fifth in the free skate with 83.85 points.

Kathryn Kang, 19, of North Vancouver, B.C. gutted out a great performance to nail down the final spot on Canada’s national team. Her musical presentation to “Sleeping Beauty” and “Swan Lake” seemed effortless. Her opening triple Lutz looked high and confident. She followed with a nice triple toe, triple Salchow and a triple Salchow/double toe combination. Her use of her upper body was outstanding, and she showed great elegance and flow on the ice.

The teen ran into problems when she doubled a planned triple loop and singled the back end of a planned double flip/double toe/double toe combination.

In the end Kang placed fourth in the free skate with 86.38 points. That combined with her seventh place short program score of 46.10 points left hert in fifth place with a total of 132.48 points.

Three-time silver medalist Mira Leung tumbled off the national team when she placed eighth in the free program with 81.67 points and sixth in the short program with 48.76 points. Her overall score of 130.43 points left her in sixth place overall.

Leung’s skating skills, power, and presentation appeared improved from earlier this season, however, she received a downgrade on a double Axel and fell on the triple flip — which was also downgraded. She also had a poor landing on a triple Lutz.

The three medalists were named to Canada’s Four Continents Team and both Rochette and Phaneuf will represent Canada at the World Championships to be held in Los Angeles in March.

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