SLAM!Sports
February 16, 2006
Rochette jumps on issue of faster ice
By KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

The ice at Palavela arena, where all of the Olympic competitions are held, has presented a challenge to Canadian Joannie Rochette.

She said the ice is faster than she is used to, making jumping tricky because she has been getting more air than normal.

"If you jump too high, it's hard to control the landing. You just need some time to adjust, said Rochette, whose competition starts Tuesday.

Rochette, 20, the two-time Canadian champion, will not do media interviews after today.

The native of Ile-Dupas, Que., is a strong technical skater, with triple-triple combinations in her repertoire.

When asked if strong jumping will be a key to winning the competition, Rochette said, "In the short program, definitely."

Russian Irina Slutskaya, pegged as the one to beat, has signature jumping. The reigning world champion has made history twice, landing a triple-Lutz-triple toe combination and and a triple-Lutz-triple loop in competitions.

"She's a strong competitor," Rochette said of Slutskaya. "I look up to her."

The Russians already have won the pairs gold and Evgeni Plushenko is poised to take the men's title tonight.

Rochette, who has been on an international podium this season, winning silver at Skate Canada, said it would be nice if another country won Olympic figure skating gold.

"That would be cool, but they're really good."

American Michelle Kwan's withdrawal last week because of a groin injury strikes a gold candidate off the list.

Compatriot Sasha Cohen is a two-time world silver medallist capable of winning gold, and Japan also has a couple medal hopes, including dark horse Miki Ando, who is the only woman to have landed a quad in competition.

Rochette, who came to Turin early because she wanted to participate in the opening ceremony, will not practise tomorrow.

"I made plans with the doctor about coming for the opening,"she said.

Her team also decided since she has been here for so long already, Rochette needs to rest.

"I need to keep my energy for what is to come," she said.

Rochette suffered a stress fracture in her landing leg in the 2002-03 season, but said the injury isn't causing her any problems now.

Rochette will be joined in the competition by teammate 16-year-old Mira Leung of Vancouver, who is in her second season on the national team.


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