Tearful Rochette wows crowd

Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:23am EST
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By Pritha Sarkar

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - A grieving Joannie Rochette held her nerve for three incredible minutes on Tuesday and dazzled the crowd with a short program that left her third at the halfway stage of the Olympic women's figure skating event.

South Korean Kim Yuna led after a record-breaking display but it was Canadian Rochette who stole the show after dissolving into tears following a near faultless performance just two days after her mother's sudden death.

"Words cannot describe (how I feel)," she said in a statement read by Skate Canada's high performance director Mike Slipchuk.

"It's hard to be precise but 10 years from now I'd want to come back and try this again -- I have no regrets.

"(It was a) very nice warm welcome, hard to handle but I appreciate the support. I'll remember this forever."

The six-times Canadian champion had somehow managed to put on a brave face in public throughout the past 48 hours despite the personal torment she has been going through since her father broke the tragic news to her early on Sunday morning.

She brought a lump to everyone's throat on Tuesday when she took to the ice looking remarkably composed and maintained that aura of calm during her sultry performance to La Cumparsita.

'HAD ME IN TEARS'   Continued...

<p>Canada's Joannie Rochette fights back tears as she finishes her performance in the women's short programme figure skating event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>