Games enthralled by day of raw emotion on ice

Wed Feb 24, 2010 2:22am EST
 
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By Julian Linden

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada's Olympic inquisition was put on ice after an extraordinary day of raw emotion at the Vancouver Winter Games on Tuesday.

The planned inquiry into the host-nation's failure to win an avalanche of gold medals was suddenly forgotten as Canadians experienced joy and relief tinged by grief.

Ashleigh McIvor triumphed in the women's ski cross to give Canada gold but her victory was overshadowed by the relief of the men's ice hockey team surviving to fight another day and the brave performance of figure skater Joannie Rochette.

Still grieving after the sudden death of her mother two days ago, Rochette kept her emotions in check long enough to dazzle the crowd with a short program that left her in third place behind South Korean Kim Yuna and Japan's Mao Asada at the halfway stage of the ice skating competition.

The Canadian was unable to contain herself when the audience instinctively leapt to their feet to applaud her, as she was left sobbing uncontrollably.

Unable to speak with media, Skate Canada's high performance director Mike Slipchuk issued a brief statement on her behalf.

"Words cannot describe (how I feel)," she said "(It was a) very nice warm welcome, hard to handle but I appreciate the support. I'll remember this forever."

It was not a day Dutchman Sven Kramer will remember fondly after a blunder by his coach robbed him of the 10,000 meters speedskating gold medal after an inexplicable error.   Continued...

 
<p>Canada's Joannie Rochette cries after her performance in the women's short programme figure skating event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, February 23, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray</p>