I was trapped in block of ice: Rochette

Fri Feb 26, 2010 6:23pm EST
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By Janet Guttsman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Joannie Rochette put her feelings on ice before Thursday's medal-winning skate, aware she had no time to think about the death of her mother, the Canadian figure skater said on Friday.

"It was as though I was trapped in a big block of ice, that's how I was able to confront the situation," a still emotional Rochette told a news conference the day after she brought home the bronze medal in the women's program.

"When I went on the ice, it's as though nothing could penetrate me."

Rochette's mother died suddenly on Sunday, hours after she had arrived in Vancouver to watch her daughter skate.

That gave an already tense women's skating contest an especially poignant air, and brought Rochette the overwhelming support of a fiercely partisan crowd.

"I felt a lot of love from the crowd -- I was not prepared for that," she said. "It was very emotional to get so much love in one moment, and it was a little overwhelming. It's something I am going to remember for the rest of my life."

Rochette, 24, was third at the start of Thursday's program, and she held on to that position, winning roars of acclaim for successful jumps and sympathetic applause for the occasional stumble.

She also won the admiration of Robin Cousins, 1980 Olympic figure skating champion.   Continued...

<p>Joannie Rochette of Canada performs her routine during the women's free skating figure skating event at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics February 25, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray</p>