Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Olympic bronze medallist Rochette to miss worlds

OTTAWA — Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette, who won a bronze medal at the Vancouver Winter Olympics four days after her mother died of a heart attack, has withdrawn from next week's World Championships.

The emotional toll of the past few weeks has proven too much for Rochette to compete in the world field at Turin, Italy, according to a statement by Skate Canada that said Myriane Samson will take her spot.

"With everything that has happened over the past few weeks, I have missed a significant amount of training time," Rochette said in the statement.

"That means I'm not prepared either emotionally or physically to skate well at these championships and once again challenge for the podium.

"Whenever I compete I want to give my best to the fans, and to respect the competitive nature of the sport. I just would not be able to do that for either the fans or myself next week."

Rochette, second at last year's worlds, served as Canada's flag bearer at the closing ceremony after her emotional medal performance, joining champion Kim Yu-Na of South Korea and runner-up Mao Asada on the podium.

"I want to thank everyone in both Canada and around the world who have been so supportive," Rochette said. "I want you all to know that your words of encouragement have truly helped me to get through this very difficult time."

Rochette has not been approved to skate in "Thin Ice", a made-for-television exhibition event this week at a US casino at which she was to have performed a tribute to her late mother, Therese.

An International Skating Union (ISU) regulation does not allow skaters to perform in unsanctioned exhibitions such as "Thin Ice" when they withdraw from ISU competitions such as the world championships.

While Skate Canada would likely allow Rochette to skate if the ISU gave her a waiver from the regulation, the ISU cites rules that require approval to come first from Skate Canada, a jurisdictional mess adding to Rochette's stress.

Rochette, 24, performed the emotional tribute to the music of Celine Dion's "Vole" at the exhibition gala in Vancouver following Olympic competition.

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