While the athletes in both disciplines don similar footwear when they go to work on the ice, there’s no doubt that hockey and figure skating are worlds apart. Though Montreal native Joannie Rochette has some experience in the former, she will head to Vancouver as Canada’s best hope for a podium finish in the latter, entering her second Winter Olympics as the country’s reigning six-time national champion. We caught up with the talented 24-year-old just ahead of her departure out west to compete on sports’ grandest stage.
Did you play any hockey as a kid? Were you any good?
Joannie Rochette: To be honest, not really. I played pond hockey with my friends growing up, but never on a real team. But if you’re born in Quebec, you definitely have to play at least some hockey growing up. My dad coached some minor hockey teams, but I didn’t exactly inherit his stickhandling skills. My skating wasn’t bad though! (laughs)
Who’s your favorite Habs player these days?
JR: I was heartbroken when [Alex] Kovalev left, but now I’d say Maxim Lapierre.
What did you think of CBC’s Battle of the Blades? Which NHLer would you most – and least – want to be partnered with on that show?
JR: I really like the show – it highlights the different nuances in both sports. The hockey players got to see how hard figure skating really is, but at the same time, they were all pretty good skaters and did a good job. I was impressed! I’d probably want to partner up with Kovalev. And the player I wouldn’t want… Dave Morissette. I did a comedy bit with him and he was yelling at me the entire time. (laughs)
Are NHLers wimps for wearing all that padding out on the ice?
JR: With how fast they’re going and running into the boards, sometimes I think they should be wearing more equipment! I like “skill” hockey more than the physical stuff though – I don’t’ like too much violence.
How do you feel heading into the Olympics? Is it different now than it was four years ago in Turin?
JR: I’m definitely a lot calmer now than I was in 2006. I know what to expect this time around. I’m looking forward to getting to Vancouver and just taking things day by day. Obviously, I have a pretty strict routine, but I can adapt. There are all sorts of curveballs you have to face at the Olympics that you just have to be ready for anything.
|Rochette counts on the Material Girl to lay teh soundtrack for her routines. |
What figure skaters did you grow up watching? Who are some of your idols within your own sport?
JR: Without a doubt, Kurt Browning. Otherwise, I’d say Jamie Sale and David Pelletier who really became national heroes in 2002.
You’ve used both Die Another Day and Like a Prayer by Madonna in your various programs – what is it about moody Material Girl music that appeals to you?
JR: I like her a lot. She’s really creative and she’s so successful. Her music is perfect to skate to. But it’s more show music – competitions are a little more classic, although I did once do a short program to a Jimmy Hendrix song.
What are some of your go-to pump up songs you’ll blast on your iPod before an event?
JR: Eye of the Tiger, Dream On and What a Feeling. Those are definitely my three favorite songs to jog to before a competition.
What’s your all-time favorite figure skating movie?
JR: I’d say it’s got to be Blades of Glory! It’s a really funny movie and I can laugh at my own sport. There are a lot of things that I know people find funny about figure skating and I agree. For example, you have to think of the “kiss and cry” scene anytime you do a throw on the ice. It’s part of the sport and you’ve got to laugh at it.
Do guys in lycra and spandex do it for you, or do you wish male figure skating outfits left more to the imagination?
JR: (laughs) No comment. But seriously there are certain skaters that have a super masculine style and others that are more feminine. I think that’s ok. It all comes down to a way of expressing yourself.
|Rochette's hands-down favorite figure skating movie: Blades of Glory. |
Is there any trash talking in figure skating?
JR: Of course there is! Whenever a bunch of competitive girls all together you know it’s going to get catty. I do shows with Japanese skaters in the summer time and we go out together after, but when the winter rolls around it’s a whole other story.
Be honest – is the Athlete’s Village really just like one big international summer camp?
JR: (laughs) Yep, that’s exactly what it’s like. When we compete in international events, we all stay in nice hotels, but at the Olympics it’s like one giant, five-star mega-camp. Everyone is dressed casually in sweatpants and in their country’s colors. The environment really creates a bond and opens you up to other cultures.
How better served would the Olympics be if Youppi! was the official mascot instead of the terrifying Miga, Quatchi and Sumi currently in place?
JR: (laughs) The mascots actually represent all of Canada. For sure in Montreal Youppi! will always be the mascot, they at least took all of the country into consideration when they created those mascots. I would totally be down with a surprise visit from Youppi! in Vancouver, though!
Follow Joannie on Twitter (@JoannieRochette) or visit her official website at http://joannierochette.ca.
This article, written by Vincent Cauchy, was published in CANADIENS magazine Vol. 24 No. 3.