When I think back on the last 17 days in Vancouver, there was one athlete who resonated with me the most, and it is Olympic women's bronze medalist, Joannie Rochette.
Sure, I can be happy for the hockey players -- both male and female. I can get into snowboarding, ski cross and bobsled for a while. But I'll never understand what their Olympic experience was really like.
Granted, I've never been an figure skater, either. But I was -- and still am -- a dancer, and like Joannie, I lost my mother before the biggest competition of my life.
Skating moms and dance moms are very similar. They're the glue that holds the whole operation together. They work two jobs so you can afford your lessons, they fund-raise for the trips for out-of-town competitions and events. They're the ones who sew your first costumes, and they're always the first to embrace you with a bone-cracking hug, win or lose.
I heard so many people ask, "How can she go out there after such a tragedy?" Speaking from experience, it really was the best thing for her to do. Many people will say, "It's what her mother would have wanted." It's probably true, but there's more to it than that. To continue with her day-to-day life, albeit during a period that included an Olympic performance, was the likely the easiest thing for her brain to handle at that time. She had literally prepped for years, it's what she was expecting to do. Performing for an audience, regardless of whether it involves competition, brings an awesome sense of peace to the mind. It's one of those rare times where you don't have to think -- you just do. I know for me when I performed that day, those few precious minutes allowed my headspace to free itself from what had just happened. As soon as I stopped, it all flooded back, and I know it did for Joannie, as well. The reaction after her short program obviously spoke volumes.
To understand the fog you're in, and to comprehend that your strongest supporter is never going to be there for you any more takes some time to grasp. You just have to do it, and get through it. As for bravery: I don't have the ego to admit to that, but I sure as hell think Joannie Rochette has got it, and then some. I'll always feel special about her bronze medal win, because although it was steeped in tragedy, it gave me an Olympic moment that I could truly relate to.
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