Legendary Jansen knows Rochette's pain

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency


Joannie Rochette looks skyward as she practices at the Richmond Olympic Oval on Sunday, just hours after her mother died in Vancouver. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)

VANCOUVER — American speed skating legend Dan Jansen has a unique understanding of what Joannie Rochette is going through during these sad days at the Vancouver Olympics and has reached out to the Canadian figure skater.

Jansen, a former world champion who is in Vancouver to do television commentary, lost his sister, Jane Beres, to leukemia just hours before he was scheduled to compete in the 500-metres event at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. And like Rochette plans to do, he went ahead and competed. Rochette’s mother, Therese, died of a suspected heart attack Sunday morning.

“I’m happy to speak to her if she would want to talk,” Jansen told QMI Agency Sunday. “I feel very sorry for her and her family. Hopefully, she can find enough strength to go out and compete if that’s what she and her family decide to do.

"In my case, I know my sister would have wanted me to go out and try -- so I did. Despite the results, I would not change my decision to do that.”

Jansen entered his race, but unfortunately slipped and fell.

He was informed on the morning of his race that his sister was close to dying. He spoke to her over the phone and though she did not respond, his brother told him that Jane wanted him to remain in Calgary and compete.

About three hours later, she died.

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