The six-time Canadian women's champion, Joannie is known for her engaging manner, and her graceful yet athletic skating style. With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in her home country, Joannie was in the fortunate position to compete for an Olympic medal with her family, friends & fellow Canadians all in her 'backyard' cheering her on in full force.
But two days before her first skate in the women's short program, Joannie suffered an insurmountable personal tragedy. Joannie's constant companion and best friend, her mom Therese died from a sudden heart attack.
Joannie's life was changed forever.
When a decision need to be made whether to perform in the Games, or return home to Quebec, Joannie showed amazing courage & strength and chose to skate. She felt that her Mother would have wanted her to skate...and so she did -- beautifully. Canadians and skating fans around the world were in tears watching her short & long programs... the most heartfelt moment of the Games, and a fitting tribute to her dear mother.
With overwhelming public support, but more importantly, a mother's eternal love urging her on, Joannie captured the bronze medal. To triumph so publicly amidst the most personal of tragedies, Joannie Rochette is not only an incredible athlete, but a truly inspirational woman.
At the time of her skate, I didn't think that I would be without my mum just three weeks later. Now, in the midst of my own grief, I still cannot fathom how she was able to carry on through the pain and tears of this crushing loss. Joannie is truly an inspiration, a lesson in courage when you need it the most.
Currently, Joannie is skating in the 'Stars on Ice' tour. The show which also features Kurt Browning, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, and Jamie Sale & David Pelletier, made a stop in my city last night. As always, Joannie performed with her usual grace & skill, just absolutely gorgeous, opening the festivities with an emotional skate to Evanescence's 'My Immortal'. I knew personally it was going to be a very profound & emotion-filled moment watching Joannie skate again for the first time since the Games, but with my own situation now mirroring her's, it was that much more so.
**Joannie has joined forces with the University of Ottawa Heart Institute's "I Heart Mom" campaign to bring awareness to women about the dangers of heart disease. For more information on this important venture, please click here. **
(photo: Globe & Mail)