Fourth straight for 'Rocket'

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- And still champion ...

It took until the last day and the last event for those words to be spoken at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

But a pair of popped jumps two-thirds of the way through the women's free skate final cost Vancouver's Mira Leung a chance to give Canada an entirely new slate of champions across the board here.

Single rotating an Axel and a flip made it relatively easy for Joannie 'Rocket' Rochette of Ile Dupas, Que. to capture her fourth consecutive national title.

"I'm very disappointed and really hate that I made those mistakes," said 18-year-old Leung. "It was horrible. I'm happy with the rest of the performance, but those two mistakes were horrible.

"I've always had trouble with the flip being too close to the boards and that was the case again," said the skater who settled for silver but, along with Rochette, still punched her ticket to Worlds in Gothenberg, Sweden in March.

Rochette ended up with 175.76 points while Leung was well back at 162.10. They were only 1.08 points apart after the short program.

For Rochette, the way the week had gone with 17-year-old Patrick Chan becoming the youngest men's skater ever to win a Canadian title and new champions in Anabelle Langlois and Cody Hay in pairs and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir in dance, there was a trend happening here.

"This title was almost emotional. For sure it feels great," she said after landing six of seven triples in the free skate final.

"With it being the Olympic venue and everything, I wanted to do my best here."

Rochette said she intends to go home and back to work on her programs to show improvement at Worlds.

"I want to land a triple-triple in the short program and do my long program like I do it at home," she said.

Rochette, beginning in 2003, has finished 17th, eighth, 11th, seventh and 10th at Worlds with a fifth place finish at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

The 21-year-old seemed happiest she managed to get it done with an event which began at 8:45 a.m. here.

"I hate mornings," she said. But I got up at 6 a.m. and came here with a smile on my face."

Former Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf, who won the title five years ago in Edmonton when she was 15, returned to the podium after not competing due to injury in 2006 and finishing fourth last year in Halifax.

But with Canada only having two spots at Worlds, the native of Contrecoeur, Que. will remain home with fourth place Leslie Hawker of Barrie, Ont.


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