Figure skater who won Olympic bronze days after mom's death now in medical school
Published Wednesday, January 24, 2018 10:00PM EST
A Canadian figure skater who captured hearts for her bronze medal performance at the Vancouver Olympics – a routine performed two days after her mother’s sudden death – won’t be competing in Pyeongchang next month.
Instead, Joannie Rochette is pursuing another lifelong dream: to become a doctor.
Since she was young, Rochette aspired to work as a doctor. But, due to her rigorous training on the ice, she didn’t think she’d be able to do both.
She chose skating. Through intense focus and training, she was able to climb her way up the ranks of the figure skating world, and was a six-time Canadian champion. In 2010, she competed in the Vancouver Olympics, and her mother, Therese Rochette, flew to B.C. to cheer her on.
Just two days before the competition, Rochette’s mother suffered a massive heart attack. She died in hospital at the age of 55.
It was a heartbreaking moment for the young athlete. But, in the face of tragedy, she chose to soldier on and compete, telling reporters at the time that she felt the closest to her mother when she was on the ice.
The emotionally-charged routine earned Rochette a bronze medal. She was later named female athlete of the year by The Canadian Press.
“Sometimes people stop me in the street and they offer me their condolences for what happened in 2010. Even though it’s been so long, in my head and theirs, it’s still very fresh,” Rochette told CTV News.
Following the 2010 Olympics, Rochette decided to refocus on her love of medicine. Despite being older than most medical students, she decided to apply anyway, and was accepted to McGill University in 2015.
Now 32, Rochette is still working toward becoming a doctor.
“I was always interested in the human body and being an athlete, trying to understand how things work. And medicine in particular, I think is a very great challenge,” she said.
“I’m really taking it as a privilege and every day that’s what’s pushing me to study harder and harder.”
Even though she won’t be competing alongside Team Canada in South Korea, Rochette said she plans to take a break from her studies to cheer them on.
With a report from CTV’s Montreal Bureau Chief Genevieve Beauchemin