Life after competition for figure skaters

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Charles Reid
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Joannie Rochette

Some of Canada’s elite figure skaters are putting on a show Friday in Charlottetown

There is life for figure skaters after the Winter Olympics, a lot of it. Joannie Rochette can attest to that.

The 27-year-old Olympic bronze medallist in 2010 has a busy schedule of skating shows which keep her jumping all over the world, including Friday when Rochette and well-known Canadian skaters Elvis Stojko, Kurt Browning and Jeffrey Buttle, among others, swizzle and twizzle their way around the Eastlink Centre ice in the Celebration On Ice Tour. It’s one of two Maritimes shows. The other is Saturday in Bathurst, N.B.

Rochette admits the competition level isn’t as high, but it doesn’t need to be. She’s an entertainer now versus a competitor, but that doesn’t mean those juices don’t flow when her blades cut the ice.

“It’s a challenge because I don’t have my coaches and trainers. But I don’t really need it. We (still) push ourselves. We always want to impress. We want to entertain, we want people to have a good time, to have a smile on their face,” said Rochette in a recent interview from Brandon, Man.

Rochette’s schedule has her skating nearly year-round and in locations as far as Asia where demand, she said, is high. She takes off about four weeks in the summer and the rest of the year is devoted to shows.

It’s a busy life, but one advantage is the relaxing from the often rigid rules of competitive figure skating.

These days, Rochette can let her hair down, so to speak, because paying customers want a show and she’s eager to present one. That means she can skate to classical or avant-garde music or more simple and muscular stuff like Pat Benatar, or she can flash-skate with burlesque-type routines or rock to psychedelic guitar god Jimi Hendrix.

All well and good, but the Montreal native said she’s still working on the artistic part because having so many choices can make it difficult to choose. Some of the men pull off major flips and jumps, but she’s not there yet.

“I can be really cheeky, or a little more childish. I love the freedom, you know exactly what time you have. The possibilities are endless,” she said. “(I’ve) not pushed myself yet. (I’m working on) getting outside of my comfort zone.”

Rochette’s mother, Thérèse Rochette, died days before the figure skating event at 2010 Olympics. She skated a near flawless routine to capture bronze on home ice.

Friday’s show is Rochette’s first stop in Charlottetown. Also on the bill is Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, Canadian pair champions, Shawn Sawyer, and world extreme ice skating champs Violetta Afanasieva and Pete Dack.

Local skaters will also be able to skate for family and friends.

 

The Celebration On Ice Tour featuring world class Canadian figure skaters.

Where and when — Friday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m., Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown.

Who’s Here? Four-time world champ Kurt Browning, two-time Olympic silver medallist Elvis Stojko, world champ Jeffrey Buttle and Olympic bronze medallist Joannie Rochette.

Tickets? Run $35 to $100, plus tax and surcharge, and are available at the Eastlink Centre box office. Call 629-6625 or www.civiccentre.pe.ca

Web — www.celebrationicetour.com

Organizations: Eastlink Centre

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Bathurst Brandon Asia Montreal

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