The surprise medalist at the 2002 Canadian Championships in Hamilton was Joannie Rochette, skating in seniors for the first time. The 15-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, skated like a veteran, winning her qualifying group over 2001 silver medalist Nicole Watt and finishing second in the free skate. Only a fifth place in the short program kept her from contending for the gold. Rochette, who won the novice ladies title in 2000 and the junior crown in 2001, continued to skate well in the Four Continents Championship in Korea two weeks later, finishing ninth. Although she had a bronze from the Junior Grand Prix in Milan in the fall, the Four Continents was her first major international event. “It was my first time in Asia and I loved it,” she said. “The competition was good and I learned a lot!”
Rochette’s goals for the year were to win a medal at a Junior Grand Prix, finish in the top five at Canadians, and get into the top six at the Junior Worlds. She’s already two-thirds of the way there and can complete the final goal next week in Hamar. In addition, she’s made the senior Canadian international team and will have a chance to compete in the Grand Prix series next season. In the future, she said “I want to be national champion and go to 2006 and 2010 Olympics.” Next year, she’ll be eligible for the Grand Prix series and hopes to do Skate Canada since it will be in Quebec.
Joannie said she began skating “when I was 2 years old because my mom took me to the rink.” No one else in her family skates. She began taking lessons from Nathalier Riquier at the Berthierville Skating Club. For the past three years, Rochette has worked with a team of coaches in Trois Rivieres and St-Leonard: Manon Perron, Nathalie Martin, Normand Proft and Danielle Robillard. She trains for about three hours a day five days a week plus another five hours in off ice training. Her off ice training includes “cardiovascular, musculation and stability training,” she said. She has also taken ballet lessons for the last three years.
Perron and Martin usually select Rochette’s music for each program, with help from Ellen Burka. Her choreography is done by Jean-Pierre Boulais. This season, she used Rachmaninov’s “Somewhere in Time’ for the short and “La Fete des Fleurs a Genzano” for the long. “I can skate to any kind of music, as long as it inspires me,” she said. “Sometimes I find good music, but only for show programs. I would like to do my own choreography one day, but I don’t feel ready to do so right now.”
Jumps are what Rochette likes most about skating, which helps to explain why Elvis Stojko, Tara Lipinski, and Michelle Kwan are her favorite skaters. She landed her first triple jump, a salchow, when she was 12, but noted that “the triple loop is my favorite jump and my hardest as well.” She is practicing a triple loop/triple loop combination this season, but hopes to learn the triple toe/triple toe next year. She listed her favorite elements as “my triple flip with the steps in the short and my opening triple loop in my long.” Asked about whether she had considered skating pairs, Rochette replied that “I would like to try pairs but I don’t have that much time right now.”
Joannie is in her fourth year of high school, but hasn’t decided on what to study in college. Her best subjects are math, science, English and physical education. Sports come naturally to her. “To relax, I like to swim, dive and jump trampoline,” she said. “I love competition in all sports. I just don’t get the opportunity to practice them. Competing brings me mental toughness in life.”
As a serious student, Rochette noted “I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies because I study a lot. I like going to cinema with friends on weekends. I like romantic comedies, thrillers and horror movies.” She also reads, primarily dramatic novels, and listens to music. Among her favorite musicians are U2, Madonna, Janet Jackson and Nine Days. She also emails friend son her computer. She also loves travel, with her favorite trip being to St.Gervais and Mont-Blanc in France. She hopes to visit Hawaii and Asia. For holidays, she likes to go to the beach.