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Maggie Hendricks

Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette's mother dies suddenly

Fourth-Place Medal

On the brink of having her Olympic dream come true, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette received tragic news. Her mother, Therese, had suddenly passed away.

Therese Rochette was in Vancouver to watch her daughter in the women's figure skating competition, which begins Tuesday. News reports indicate that Joannie Rochette plans to skate.

Rochette took second at the 2009 World Championships, and is a threat to medal. She took fifth in Torino, and was looking forward to helping Canada return to the medal stand in figure skating. From an interview shot last week:

This isn't the first time that tragedy has touched Joannie. When she returned home from the Turin Olympics, Joannie found out that one of her training partners had been killed in a car accident. Now, just two days away from competing again, she has to face it again.

Rochette considered her mother an important part of her skating training. She asked her mother to visit her training at least once a week to push her.

"My mom, who was always close to me, took more distance from my skating for the last couple of years,'' Rochette wrote in 2008. "I was missing her input and support as well as her approach to getting more and more solid with my elements.

"She has always been the most critical person about my skating, pushing me harder to improve.

"Even if it requires quite a big deal of humility at 22 to admit you need more of your mother, I expressed it and she drives from home to St-Leonard once a week to come to supervise with her unique eyes my training.''

Rochette has indicated that she will not talk to the media until after she has finished skating. She skates 26th on Tuesday night, and practiced her routine today.

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