Worlds away for Rochette

SHANE ROSS

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

Joannie Rochette has moved to the next level in her personal life, now she wants to do the same in her professional life.

The Ile-Dupas, Que., native has won all there is to win in Canada. She is the only Canadian woman to capture national figure skating titles in all three age categories -- novice, junior and senior, which she's won the last four years.

But the same success has eluded her on the world stage. She hopes that all changes at Skate Canada International this weekend at Scotiabank Place.

"I'm feeling very good and confident to start a new season, especially so close to home," Rochette said.

At 22 -- which is getting up there in the world of women's figure skating -- she knows she only has a few years of competitive skating left. She has her sights on the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, then will take it "one year, and one skate, at a time."

If she's feeling more confident, perhaps it's partly because she's seeing first-hand what it takes be a world-class athlete.

In July, she moved into a new apartment in downtown Montreal with boyfriend Francois-Louis Tremblay, a three-time world speed skating champion. Their romance began at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy, where Tremblay won two silver medals in short-track and Rochette finished fifth in women's figure skating.

"It's a big change for me," Rochette said. "We both have good living habits -- he's a better cook than me -- and I'm learning a lot about myself, which is good."

Although they've gone public skating together before --she has even shown him figure skating moves and he has taught her how to speed skate -- don't expect to see them holding hands skating along the Rideau Canal this winter.

"We tried (skating outdoors) for fun last winter, but I really don't like the cold," Rochette said. "It was fun because it was different, but when you're in an ice rink all day, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go out in the cold to another ice rink."

Especially on Saturday night, when the Montreal Canadiens are playing on TV.

"He is a big, big Canadiens fan," she said. "I didn't used to watch it hockey, but know I do and on my fridge I even have a picture of Alex Kovalev."

If all goes as planned, Tremblay will see her on the medal podium Sunday afternoon.

"I'm really going for everything," she said. "I have better training habits, more repetition of each jump every day. I want to challenge for a world podium. I just want to do my best, then whatever happens I know I've done everything under my control."


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