Q & A with Joannie Rochette
Q: Why do you think it’s important to speak a women’s event such as this?
A: It’s really close to my heart. I’ve been juggling work, school and skating for a long time. Of course in figure skating, it might be a bit more popular amongst women but it had been such a long time without us having a woman succeed on the world level. The media were pretty harsh for me when I was climbing up the ladder when I was at World Championships my first year. It took me six years to get my program and during those six years there were a lot of doubts, the media doubted me, made me doubt myself, so it was not an easy road. In the men’s events we always we had great success Elvis [Stojko], Kurt [Browning], Patrick [Chan], Jeffrey [Buddle], we had many but in the ladies it was not as easy and I think it gets harder to keep on believing in yourself when you keep hearing all these doubts.
Q: How important is it to focus on recognizing women in sports?
A: I think in university sport the men get sometimes more attention, the hockey teams, the football teams and I think it’s so important that the women get some respect and can raise money for their sports. It should be equal, but sometimes it’s a bit harder for women and I’m glad to be here and hopefully help them raise some money and support for women’s sports at the university.
Q: What does your speech touch on? What are some key points that you really want to drive home today?
A: I’m just going to talk about my journey. When I started skating, how I started skating, how it was being a woman in sport.
Q: What message do you hope people take away?
A: I’m just going to talk about my personal experience but I hope this can inspire some of these women. It’s great to meet [the nominees] and hopefully I can inspire them and also inspire the university to keep funding women’s sports.
Q: What does it mean to you that an event such as this, honouring women in sports, even exists?
A: It’s the event like this that I’ve attended. I go to fundraising events for cancer and all kinds of other things but to be at an event for women in sports, that’s me. It’s great to see myself a couple years ago and be able to help. I’m happy if the few words I can say can help in any way.
Q: This year was supposed to be about re-evaluating, finding out about where your heart is in terms of competition, are you getting closer everyday?
A: I’ve been touring since November and it’s been so busy I only had four days at home in December and that includes Christmas and New Year’s. I went to Japan, Switzerland, it’s been an incredible year and to be honest since the Olympics I haven’t had time to breathe yet. I love shows, I love competing and I plan on competing in the Japan open again but I don’t know if I will still do the whole competition circuit again because I’m 25 years old, I want to make a little bit of money, get a house, maybe make a family soon so we’ll se. I’m still very competitive with myself, when I get on the ice, I still want to make sure I keep all my jumps, but I don’t know yet. It’s hard because nothing beats an Olympics at home. Yes, and Olympics is an Olympics, but I look at Sochi and I think ‘it’s not going to be as big as Vancouver was for us.’
Q: You were the flag bearer for the closing ceremonies in Vancouver, talk about that experience.
A: I was very surprised when they asked me to carry the flag in the first place because I had only won a bronze medal. But that’s when I realized how much support I got from all of Canada. It was such an honour and such a great feeling to walk into the stadium, I’ll remember that moment forever.
Q: When you realized the entire country was behind you, how much did that support mean to you?
A: That’s why I was able to skate in the first place and get through those Olympics, people really carried me. It was harder when I got home and got some silence, that was when the reality really sunk in.