Joannie Rochette Performance |

February 24, 2010 by Post Team 

Vancouver Olympics Figure SkatingJoannie Rochette Performance | for the sap-filled headline, but there’s really no way to talk about the performance of Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette on Tuesday night without delving into emotive prose. If you have a heart, Rochette’s performance surely tugged its strings.

The back story: Rochette, Canada’s best hope for a medal in Vancouver and runner up at the World Championships last year, not only came to the Olympics with the pressure of the host nation on her shoulders, but went out there last night just two days after her mother died of a heart attack. Obviously an extremely emotional time – Scott Hamilton mentioned on NBC’s coverage how close Rochette was to her mother – but the 24-year old skater decided to continue with the competition, falling into what is certainly the emotional safety net of “routine” in an effort to parse the emotions of the situation.

And parse she did. Holding back tears before her short program, Rochette gave an inspired performance, skating herself into third place heading into Thursday’s free skate. Emotions overwhelmed her after the skate as well, as she doubled over in tears as soon as her program came to a close.

Watch NBC’s video of Rochette’s performance.

We talk a lot about the “human interest” element to the Olympics. Even some of the athletes talk about how the Olympics aren’t about winning medals, but more about the spirit of people from around the world coming together for something bigger than themselves, and bigger than their country. Frankly, I always think that’s BS we’re fed from athletes who don’t expect to win and from the TV coverage that wants us to watch whether the United States is good at an event or not. It’s about the Olympic Spirit more than anything else.

Well, yesterday, it actually was. It didn’t matter if Rochette missed every single jump or nailed her performance the way she did – it was a season’s best score for her – the fact that she was out on the ice embodied what the Olympics are all about. That said, nailing her routine and finishing in contention for a medal makes the story that much more poignant…and incredible.

Chris Chase at Yahoo’s Fourth Place Medal looked at the performance from an NBC perspective, giving the network high marks for their restrained coverage:

Tom Hammond was understated in his commentary, as usual. The visuals were nearly perfect: tight shots of Rochette warming-up and the occasional cut to what NBC thought was her grieving father, but was actually another teary-eyed man misidentified by the Canadian team. (So don’t blame NBC for that one.)

When Rochette was introduced to a raucous ovation, NBC used a wide shot to show the cheering Canadian crowd and focused in tight as Rochette slapped five with her coach, fighting back tears. All during this, the announcing booth stayed silent, letting the visuals tell the story, a professional move if there ever was one.

Usually during a skate you’ll have Hamilton tipping the jumps, letting us know what’s coming and giving an instant reaction to the maneuver. Not this time, as the entire NBC booth was respectfully silent during Rochette’s performance. In addition, NBC opted not to go for the full-on emotional pre-skate package, instead focusing their cameras on Rochette during live warm-ups. Perhaps if she was American, or if NBC had more time between her mother’s death and the short program skate, we would have gotten more pre-packaged schmaltz.

But it wasn’t needed. The “human interest” was real…and all that really mattered.

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