Monday, 23 March 2009

Steadily improving Rochette a dark horse

Joannie Rochette was my prediction for a possible gold medal this week at Worlds and, apparently, someone over at The Globe and Mail feels the same.
It's been 21 years since a Canadian woman won a medal at the world figure skating championships.

Is it Joannie Rochette's time now? She is a dark horse for the women's title at this year's championships, which start tomorrow in Los Angeles at the Staples Center.

"I have yet to be on the world podium, and this is the first time in my life I've told myself I can really do this," Rochette says. "I feel like I belong out there this year."
The idea of Rochette standing atop the podium is definitely not fantasy, as her results so far this season have been fantastic.
At Skate Canada in Ottawa, Rochette defeated former world silver medalist Fumie Suguri of Japan by 25 points, rendering speechless Elizabeth Manley, the last Canadian woman to win a world medal (silver), in 1988.

Rochette went on to defeat reigning world champion Mao Asada of Japan by 13 points at the Trophée Eric Bompard in France in November. Asada wasn't perfect at that event, but neither was Rochette.

At the Four Continents championship in Vancouver in February, Rochette defeated Asada again in the short program. In the long program, Rochette defeated world bronze medalist Kim Yu-Na of South Korea, who is coached by Brian Orser in Toronto and reigns over the women's ranks this year.

When Rochette won the silver medal at Four Continents, behind Kim and ahead of Asada, she established herself as a major threat at the world championships. She's finished ahead of everybody who matters at various points of the season.

The article also touches on other possible contenders in the ladies division, highlighting the apparent weakness of the European contenders.
The Europeans did not participate in the Four Continents, but the women's event at the European championships was lacklustre. Laura Lepisto of Finland won the event with simple jump combinations over favourite Caroline Kostner of Italy, the world silver medalist from last year.

Kostner bombed in the short program and won the long program without getting credit for a spin. But Kostner's strong point is her speed, and she builds momentum over the season, usually peaking at a world championship. Judges seem to adore her.

Judges do see to award disproportionately high scores to Kostner, and I for one am not a fan of her skating.

The article also talks about Kim, the American representatives who'll be in LA and the contenders in the ice dance division. It can be found here.

Program of the Day is Rochette's LP from 4CC. If she can perform it as well as this at Worlds, Asada and maybe even Kim might want to watch out. It's suprememly graceful yet still retains the necessary power to do some fanatastic triples.

FYI, I will be posting about the World Championships, naturally, starting from tomorrow, but those posts will be brief as most of my free time will be taken up by watching it! In the next fortnight or so, however, there will be more detailed postings on all of the competition. I will also most likely be posting spoilers, so be prepared.

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