February 22, 2006
Rochette lacks confidence
KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

TURIN -- There will be no triple combination jumps in Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette's free skate tomorrow.

Rochette, 20, the 2006 and 2005 national champion, is capable of jumping triple combos, but said she hasn't been performing them well in practice and has decided to eliminate them from both programs.

"I don't think it's consistent enough. When I do it, I want to land it. It's getting good now, but we decided not to do it," the Ile Dupas, Que., native said.

Without a triple-triple, Rochette is ninth after the short program with 55.85 points.

The leader, American Sasha Cohen, has 66.73 points.

Skating to Madonna's Like a Prayer, Rochette started her short program yesterday at Palavela with a triple Lutz-double toe loop. On her next jump, a triple flip, she touched a hand down because she didn't have enough speed going into the jump to rotate fully.

Before the competition, Rochette said the fast ice at Palavela is giving skaters more air.

"I had to be careful because the ice is softer, so it makes you jump higher."

Rochette, who won a silver at Skate Canada International last year, said the younger competitors at the Olympics are pushing everyone to do the triple combinations.

"I will need it, but I don't want to do something that I know is not consistent and I'm going to mess up other elements because I won't be confident."

Sixteen-year-old Mira Leung of Vancouver got all of her jumps out of the way in the first half of her routine, landing a triple Lutz-double loop, triple flip and double Axel.

"I don't think I've ever done a short program this good," said Leung, who finished 14th.

Her coach, Joanne McLeod, said Leung is a workaholic and that's why she's able to be at an Olympic competitive level at such a young age.

But Leung also has been having a good time in Turin.

Her coach said Leung loves a pop key given to athletes that allows her to plug it into a machine and get a drink any time she wants.

"She knows when to be a kid and she knows when to be a warrior," McLeod said.