Rochette in silver spot

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Joannie Rochette manufactured a moment which could turn into a great memory in Canadian figure skating history.

But it wasn't anywhere near as momentous as the one produced by Brian Orser's girl Kim Yu-Na, who gave the World Figure Skating Championships something special in taking a seemingly insurmountable lead into tonight's free skate final.

Rochette sits second - breaking up the rivalry between Korean Kim and Japan's Mao Asada. And that's hardly an insignificant accomplishment if she can turn it into a silver medal tonight.

Canada hasn't put a woman on the Worlds podium since 1988 when Liz Manley won silver at both the Calgary Olympics and the Worlds which followed.

But Kim, who performed with her Toronto coach Brian Orser doing contortions, skating with her in his street shoes behind the boards - a sight to behold in itself - produced a program which scored 76.12 - almost four points better than her season's best. It was also the best score by a woman since they went to the new points system following the Salt Lake Olympic judging scandal.

"I just believe at a world championship the stage brings out the best in people and that was one of those moments in skating that people will remember," he said.

"It's great to have this performance here with the rivalry with Mao and now Joannie Rochette," he said.

Rochette sits second at 67.90 after beating her season best in a breakout year for the six time Canadian champion from Ile Dupas, Que.

Former world champion Asada is third at 66.06.

"That's fabulous," said Orser for Rochette. "She skated so well and so strong. That was awesome. That's amazing for Canadian skating going to Vancouver 2010," he said of the way Rochette has come on and seized the moment at the world championships where she hasn't in the past.

NOT EVEN CLOSE

Fifth at the Torino 2006 Olympics, she finished 17th, 8th, 11th, 7th, 10th and 6th in her first six world championships.

"Stunning! Joannie was stunning," said Shae-Lynn Bourne, the former Canadian star with Victor Kraatz in dance who put together the program for her short.

"I was very proud of her. She looked so confident and so much like a champion. And you know how nerve racking the short program can be for her."

So many of Rochette's disappointments in trying to get to the top have resulted from failures in the short.

"The short program has always been a struggle," said coach Manon Perron. "Sometimes you can want it too much. She's put so much pressure on the short program. Little crazy things happen."

Rochette even had it happen to her in the short at the Canadians this year in Saskatoon.

"That was a really tough night, let me tell you," she said of having to get herself together to come back and win the Canadian title the next day.

For a second there it looked like it could be the same old story as the Rocket had major launch pad problems on her triple Lutz.

"My toe picked in late so I'm in the air," she said of being way off kilter. "But I landed it nicely. I'm glad I did that. It shows I fight for everything all the time."

The one flaw in the program was doing a double toe loop on the back end of the combination led off by the Lutz.

"After that Lutz it was better to do a double," said Perron.

"Sixth I think was my previous best position after the short," said Rochette of the ground she's had to make up with her generally excellent free skate finals.

All of a sudden Rochette has a chance to match the silver won by Patrick Chan. Not that she watched him win it.

"I was in my room, but it wasn't on TV. The internet was really slow. So I called my boyfriend," she said of short track speed skater Marc-Pierre Tremblay.

"He was trying to tell me watching his TV. He was saying 'He singled or doubled something after a triple.' It was kind of funny.

"But I was excited about the whole thing."

She doesn't want to get ahead of herself thinking about that, though.

"I don't want to be too confident or too happy," she said.

"I'm getting out of this building with a big smile on my face."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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