Rochette ready to take on the world

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. -- Joannie Rochette woke up realizing it really wasn't just a dream. And to a whole lot more attention.

Photos of a beaming Rochette graced the front pages of several newspapers available in town yesterday -- the morning after a remarkable free skate made her the new Canadian women's figure skating champion.

"It was weird," the charming 19-year-old from Ile-Dupas, Que., said with a laugh. "People in the hotel (elevator) were saying 'Oh, you're that skater.' They were all nice. I'm just so excited now. I still don't believe it, I think."

Rochette turned in a performance for the ages on Friday night, landing seven triple jumps in a free skate that many veteran skating observers are rating with the best in Canadian history. It made her the first Canadian woman to win national titles in three age categories -- novice (2000), junior (2001) and senior.

"It was very exciting, with all my family here," she said. "It's a dream come true now."

Rochette celebrated quietly Friday night with her parents, Therese and Normand, and family friends who witnessed her amazing feat at the John Labatt Centre.

"They gave me a little bit of champagne," she said.

Yesterday morning, TSN had her watch a tape of her skate and analyze it for a program aired later in the day.

"I don't usually watch myself that much," said Rochette. "It's hard to watch yourself and not criticize it. But I think (Friday) night was the best I've done so far. I'm very excited about this."

Rochette's victory fulfilled the promise many saw in her after she won her junior and novice titles. She has served notice she'll contend for the podium at the world championships in March in Moscow. Her point total for two programs (short and free) -- 183.93 -- is a world best this season.

DANCE FINAL: Today's ice dance final wraps up the competition. Montreal's Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon still hold a comfortable edge after yesterday's original dance, but there's a tight battle for second. Vancouver's Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe hold a slim edge with 95.74 points, but Minto's Chantal Lefebvre and Arseniy Markov -- second in the original dance -- are right behind with 95.07.

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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