OTTAWA – Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette has been cleared to perform a tribute to her late mother in Friday’s made-for-TV exhibition “Thin Ice.”
Her plan to skate in the ABC show appeared in jeopardy after she withdrew from the upcoming world championships Monday.
International Skating Union rules state an athlete can’t choose an exhibition performance over an ISU-sanctioned event.
But the ISU agreed Tuesday to make an exception for Rochette, who won hearts with her courage and grace as she skated to a bronze medal at the Vancouver Olympics less than a week after her mother Therese died of a heart attack.
The ISU ruling allows the Ile-Dupas, Que., native to perform Friday even though she won’t compete next week in Turin, Italy. After the ISU gave its blessing, Skate Canada also gave Rochette the green light to perform.
“We appreciate the ISU worked with us to find a solution for this situation,” Skate Canada CEO William Thompson said in a release. “They have agreed to relax ISU rule 136 for Joannie in this instance, due to the unique and extenuating circumstances of this particular request.”
Rochette, 24, said Monday the emotional and physical upheaval of the last several weeks had prevented her from properly preparing for the world championships.
In “Thin Ice” Rochette will skate to “Vole” by Celine Dion, her mom’s favourite singer. It’s the same program Rochette performed at the Exhibition Gala at the Vancouver Games. Dion wrote the song in memory of her niece who died of cystic fibrosis and Dion is expected to provide a recorded message to Rochette during the show.
It will be the first performance in a busy exhibition season for Rochette, who will also make a guest appearance in the first four shows of the “Stars on Ice” U.S. tour next month in Florida.
Rochette, along with Canadian Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, will then headline the Canadian version of “Stars on Ice” later in April.