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Joannie Rochette finds a new way to soar

June 2, 2015

TORONTO (AP) — Triple jumps just don’t deliver the same thrills for Joannie Rochette. So she’s found a new way to soar.

“I started skydiving last fall and did my solo certification and got really into it,” said the Vancouver Olympics bronze medalist in figure skating who has completed about 30 jumps, leaping from as high as 14,000 feet.

During a recent Stars On Ice tour stop in Montreal, Rochette said some other skaters wanted to come along for a tandem jump, including fellow Canadian and three-time world champion Patrick Chan.

“It’s not only for crazy people that want to jump out of airplanes,” she said. “It’s an actual sport — and I can really relate (it) to skating.

“You just practice your little routine over and over again until you have control and until you can master all of those tricks.”

Rochette is a six-time Canadian national champion and silver medalist at the 2009 world championships. In a defining moment of the 2010 Olympics, Rochette won the bronze medal just days after her mother died of a heart attack. She was selected to carry Canada’s flag at the closing ceremony, then returned home to grieve.

Rochette hasn’t competed in a major international event since. Her coach, Manon Perron, retired after the Vancouver Games.

Rochette said she wanted to compete in the team event at the 2014 Sochi Games. Rules requiring participation in the singles event along with points she needed to have earned before those Olympics kept her sidelined. Instead, Rochette stepped behind the microphone with French-language broadcaster Radio-Canada.

“I always kept in shape. In fact, that year, I completed a long program with the same Olympic rules in order to be prepared in case I wanted to come back,” she said.

“I always loved the training part. I love having a coach by the side of the boards training me, pushing me hard. And I kind of miss that, honestly, because (now) I go on the ice and I make my own schedule.”

Now 29, Rochette said it would be “pushing it” to return to competition. But with female skaters typically bowing out in their mid-20s, she said it would be “cool” to have a woman participating at an elite level at a later age.

“I still do competitions for fun,” Rochette said of open events in which she’s skated. “Not many women doing shows nowadays want to do that because it’s quite hard to keep your technical level up there, to do all the tricks that you used to do at the Olympics.

“But luckily, with Stars on Ice, we’re always skating with the amateurs, and I’m always trying to keep up my jumps and my technical level up there.”

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