Mother of women’s Canadian figure skater dies

The mother of Canadian figure skating star Joannie Rochette died

Sunday, two days before Rochette is to begin competition.

Therese Rochette, 55, died Sunday at a hospital in Vancouver,

Skate Canada president Benoit Lavoie said. No cause of death was

announced. Rochette still plans to compete, Lavoie said, and was at

the Olympic village with her father, Normand, who broke the news to

his daughter early Sunday.

Joannie Rochette has been in Vancouver since the opening

ceremony, and her parents arrived Saturday from their home in

Montreal. The women’s short program is Tuesday, and the final

Thursday.

Rochette has two practices scheduled Sunday, but Lavoie said

she won’t talk until the competition is complete. Mike Slipchuk,

Skate Canada’s high performance director, said the rest of the

Canadian skating team was told the news before it was announced

publicly.

“We’ll do our best to manage it, but our first thoughts are

with Jo and her family,” Slipchuk said. “We’ll go step by step.”

As the reigning world silver medalist, Rochette is Canada’s

best chance to win an Olympic medal since Liz Manley won the silver

in 1988, the last time the games were in Canada.

“A medal would mean so much to me,” the six-time Canadian

champion said earlier this week. “But I’m trying not to think too

much because I want to be happy in my performance and happy in my

career. I don’t want to define my life by what happened here.”