Tonight I did two things I have never done before. One, I cheered for a non-American in the Olympics. And two, I was fully entranced in watching figure skating.
While I will be the first to tell you that I am definitely a fan of the more mainstream, hardcore, popular, no matter what you call it, non figure skating sports, tonight, that was not the case. Minutes before Canada’s Joannie Rochette took the ice to skate her short program in this years Winter Olympics, I learned that her mother passed away of a sudden heart attack just two days ago. Rochette, already skating with the weight of the host nation on her shoulders, now was seemingly skating with the weight of the world.
While announcers can announce, analysts can analyze, and bloggers can blog, there are no words that can describe, or even imagine what Rochette must have been going through. In a sport that takes so much concentration it astounds me that she was able to even stand on the ice.
Though she was able to do much more than just stand.
Over the next two minutes I watched in amazement as a young women gracefully smiled, spun, and jumped along the ice. All the time I was thinking how could she be doing this after such a tragedy? I couldn’t even concentrate and I wasn’t the one skating! The performance was flawless. Clearly not qualified to judge any sort of skating competition, I still found Rochette’s routine to be of incredible stature. Receiving a personal short program best, Rochette glided her way to the third best score of the night. Whether you or I or anyone else believes it or not, there seemed to be a higher power at work in the rink tonight.
My deepest sympathies go out to Joannie Rochette’s, and her family and friends. For an athlete who went to the 2010 games with two parents, there must be nothing more difficult than going home with only one. Joannie, I must tell you that in all my years associated with sports I have never been so touched by an athlete I never new, competing in a sport I never watched. If you leave these games without a medal, know that you won over the heart of millions with the strength and courage you put forth on the ice tonight.