Cowtown karma

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 AM ET

Calgary has been kind to Canada's female figure skaters.

The tradition started with Barbara Ann Scott, who returned from gold-medal performances at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and world championships, to cap her competitive career in Cowtown with a national title.

Karen Magnussen continued it in 1972 at the Corral with a worlds silver medal, the last time Calgary hosted the International Skating Union event.

And who can forget Liz Manley? She captured Canadians' hearts with a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics at the Saddledome.

Now Joannie Rochette is hoping it's her turn.

After all, the Montreal native won her first national title -- novice in 2000 -- at the Saddledome.

"It's good to think about it, that Calgary has been a good city for Canadian ladies," the 20-year-old said yesterday. "Hopefully, it will be a good time for me."

Should she skate well, Rochette is in a great position to medal at the world championships, which run Monday through next Sunday at the Saddledome.

Shizuka Arakawa of Japan and Irina Slutskaya of Russia, the Olympic gold and bronze medallists, respectively, won't be in the field. Silver medallist Sasha Cohen of the U.S. is on the entry list, as are other top-10 finishers such as Fumie Suguri of Japan, Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes of the U.S., Sarah Meier of Switzerland, Carolina Kostner of Italy and Elena Sokolova of Russia.

"It's really only two ladies of 40 girls," Rochette said. "There are still very strong ladies who weren't medallists. Some girls at the Olympics didn't do their best who are strong competitors and will be at worlds. The level of competition will be very strong."

And that could play a part in whether she stands on the podium after the women's free skate next Saturday afternoon.

"I cannot predict what's going to happen," the two-time national champion said. "There are three programs to do, including qualifying. My job is to give three strong performances and have fun.

"Really, that is what it's all about, to enjoy what you're doing. I can do that and my goal will be achieved. If I get a medal, that's a bonus."

Of course, her goal in Turin was just to get into the top 10. Although her short program, set to Madonna's Like a Prayer, was a bit shaky, she nailed her free skate -- Les Feuilles Mortes -- and gave Canada its best Olympic showing in women's skating since Manley's silver. She landed six triples, more than any of the medallists, and jumped from ninth after the short program to finish fifth.

"I was really happy with my position," she said. "I knew the competition would be really tough ... My only goal was to put down two solid skates and that's what I did. There were a few mistakes but I was very happy and I know I can do better for worlds."

With a little Calgary luck, that might just happen.


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