The Vancouver Olympic Games will always hold a special place in Joannie Rochette’s heart.
Two days prior to the start of the ladies’ figure skating competition at the Winter Games in 2010, Rochette’s mother, Therese died unexpectedly of a heart attack while in town to watch her daughter compete.
While no one would have questioned her had she chosen to withdraw, Rochette remained in the competition and skated in her mother’s honour.
With a heavy heart, Rochette delivered a phenomenal skate, recording a new personal best in the short program and wound up winning the bronze medal.
While it was a time of great loss for Rochette, she also remembers the wonderful memories.
“2010 was amazing having the chance to represent my country at home in Canada,” she said in a recent phone interview.
“That is not something that every athlete can do; maybe once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It felt like the whole country was behind us.”
These days, Rochette — who turns 27 in January — is skating as part of the 2012 Holiday Festival on Ice tour. It will be at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday (Dec. 1) for a 7 p.m. show.
In addition to Rochette’s bronze medal, she has won a silver medal at the world championships and is the six-time Canadian national champion.
Since competing at the 2010 Games, Rochette has begun performing in touring shows, which she said are hugely popular overseas.
But nothing beats the chance to perform in her home country.
“It is great to perform in front of our Canadian fans,” she said, adding the intimacy of the smaller venues allows the skaters to better connect with the crowd.
Rochette used to skate in shows like this for about one month a year, but since 2010, has begun doing this full time.
“It is busy, but I like it,” she said.
“I like to be able to perform for the fans and not worry about being judged.
“It is a big difference: you can see the skaters have big smiles on their faces; they are truly enjoying their skating.”
It is also a different type of skating for the performers.
“There is a real big difference between competitions and show skating,” Rochette explained.
“In competition, it is all about the jump, the number of revolutions in your spins; you have to calculate everything.
“But in your show, it is more about the crowd; you want them to have a good time, you want to entertain them.”
Saturday’s show celebrates Christmas and Rochette says she has been rehearsing and performing it for so long, she feels like it is Christmas-time already.
“It is a family show with Christmas music,” she described.
The cast for the show is star studded.
Also attending will be four-time world champion Kurt Browning, two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time world champion Elvis Stojko, world champion Jeffrey Buttle, Kimmie Meissner, Shawn Sawyer, Sinead and John Kerr. The Kerr’s are seven-time British dance champions.