Blowing kisses to heaven

Canada's Joannie Rochette reacts after performing free program.
Canada's Joannie Rochette reacts after performing free program.

Rochette, who lost mom,takes bronze; Yu-na Kim gets gold

Posted: February 26, 2010

VANCOUVER - Korean powerhouse Yu-na Kim made good her sponsors' multimillion dollar investments with a gold medal. Hyundai is happy.

Mao Asada, the face of Olympus in Japan, was the picture of disappointment. She won silver, as expected, but gave Kim nothing close to a challenge.

The rest of the world fixated on Joannie Rochette, blowing kisses to heaven after her free skate, honoring her mother as she won an Olympic bronze medal.

She's the Canadian who lost her mother, Therese, to a massive heart attack here Sunday. She's the woman who, gamely skating Tuesday, connected with the globe in the Winter Games' marquee event.

Rochette took a third-place score out of Tuesday's short program into last night's free skate, 6.14 points behind Kim in first place, 2.42 behind Asada in second. The random draw for the last six skaters of the night put Kim two spots before Rochette and Asada just before her.

The Monterey Pop Festival couldn't have concocted a better set list.

Kim's breathtaking grace and athleticism during her Gershwin number, gifts previewed Tuesday during a saucy James Bond homage, made the proceedings thereafter moot. Her 228.56 easily stood up, as did the audience upon her finish.

Glitches in the middle of Asada's program disappointed the sellout crowd at the Pacific Coliseum, not to mention the weeping, beaten Asada. She finished with 205.50, almost three points ahead of Rochette.

Last night was less about scores than about sympathy.

Rochette, at 24 the oldest contender last night, took the ice to a loving roar. That she even showed up to perform to "Samson and Delilah" was Herculean.

She botched a triple flip early, to the crowd's dismay. She sailed from there.

She clutched her throat at her program's end, dropped her hands to her hips and blew a one-handed kiss to the audience, a two-handed kiss to the sky.

On Tuesday, she cried and called for her mama after the short program.

Despite the brilliance of the Asians, those are the images that will color this competition – and will anchor the collage of these Games.

Ringlets

American figure skaters Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu entered fifth and sixth, respectively. Flatt performed stolidly, her 182.49 good enough for seventh. Nagasu, the night's last skater, was fourth, with 190.15 . . . Aerialist Jeret Peterson won silver in the men's freestyle skiing competition last night, 1.2 points behind Alexei Grishin, of Belarus. Gold medal favorite Ryan St. Onge, of the U.S., finished fourth, 2.6 points behind bronze-medalist Zhongqing Liu, of China.

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