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Rochette Reignites Her Competitve Fire to Rise to Sixth Canadian Title

World silver medalist Joannie Rochette took to the ice at John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario today like she was on a mission. Her eyes firmly planted on the Olympic ticket she worked four years to earn.

Rochette, 23, of Ile Dupas, Quebec who placed second to Cynthia Phaneuf in the short program, was determined to return to the Olympic Games as the number one woman in Canada. Being second just would not do even though an Olympic berth would still await her.

The Skate Canada Champion appeared tough as nails, and she delivered the program with the power and the fortitude that won her a World medal last season in Los Angeles. Her opening combination a triple Lutz/ double toe/ double loop had great spring and the triple flip and triple loop that followed were near-perfect. They earned +2 GOE’s (Grade of Execution from all eight judges. In all Rochette rocked seven clean triples, which included a triple toe + triple Salchow sequence.

“I don’t know why I was crying,” Rochette told the press. “It’s the sixth time I was going for this title. It seems like every year I’m more nervous about it. Even though I was qualified for the Games, it was really important for me to come here and do two strong performances.”

Rochette has never been just a jumper. Her spins and spirals were all first-rate and were graded level four by the technical panel. The Champion blew away her previous personal best by over 25 points. She won the title with a free program score of 144.08 points.

It has been a hard road for Rochette this season and some have criticized her for showing up to competitions unprepared, but today she silenced those critics. The demands of being a World contender, has not been easy for the Canadian Champion. Media’s requests are constant and public appearances have been overwhelming. Rarely does she have time to rest.

“The thing I learned in Torino that I will take with me to the Olympic Games is that you have to manage the demands placed on you, and you have to make sure that you have enough time to rest, Rochette stated. “After these championships I will go home for a few days and rest before I resume my training.”

“Yuna (Kim) is a definite contender, and you cannot rule out Mao Asada – her triple Axel is amazing and then there is Miki Ando also,” Rochette identified as her biggest competition.

When asked about Sasha Cohen the 23-year-old stated: “I got to tour with Sasha this summer, and I got to know her as a person. When Sasha competes, she is very focused and I really wish her the best of luck.”

2004 Canadian Champion Cynthia Phaneuf told the media she had no expectations of winning the Championship.

“My goal was to make the Olympic Team. The dream I have had since I was a small child,” Phaneuf said. Joannie is an amazing competitor and I expected her to fight back.”

“It was not that difficult to skate after Joannie. I knew she skated very well and I just tried to focus my thoughts.“

Even though Phaneuf did not win the Women’s title, she did win a battle.

In the past Phaneuf would have been consumed by the pressure and would have difficulty staying focused. Although her program was not as magical as her short program, when she made a mistake, she did not let it shake her confidence and crumble under the pressure.

Despite doubling her second jump a planned triple Lutz, Phaneuf fought back with a triple loop/ double toe combination and a triple flip. A second blip occured when she doubled a planned triple Salchow, but that did not deter her either. She refocused and delivered a strong double Axel and a triple toe/ double toe/ double loop combination.

Some thirty plus points behind Myriane Samson, 21, of St Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Quebec finished third, despite a fourth place free skate worth 97.59 points.

Skating to “As Time Goes By” the 2004 Junior ladies champion produced four clean triples and a double Axel + double Axel sequence. She ran into problems when she under-rotated the front end of a planned triple loop + double toe combination and fell on a triple Lutz which took off from the wrong edge. Despite the mistakes, she delivered strong spins and spiral.

Samson racked up a competition score of 151.10 to capture the bronze medal.

Diane Szmiett placed third in the free skate with 100.28 points ,but fourth overall with a competition total of 148.47 points.

2009 Canadian bronze medalist Amelie Lacoste slipped to fifth place overall after a error-prone free skate worth 93.44 points.

Three-time Canadian silver medalist Mira Leung withdrew after placing fifteenth in the short program. No reason for the withdrawal was given.

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