Life Lessons: A skater’s courage touches all of us


It is unscripted yet it seems like a story made for Hollywood. We all are looking for the next story that touches us all and causes us to see the true meaning of love, devotion, courage and tribute. In the case of the woman’s Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette we were all deeply touched and moved by her inner strength, courage, determination, love and tribute to her mother who had unexpectedly passed away within a couple of days before her ice skating performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics at Vancouver. It is remarkable that Joannie could compete after such a tragedy and win a medal. She was so graceful and beautiful when she took the ice and skated her program.

It took her many years to get to this level of competition and she wanted to skate to honor her mother and she had the world looking on and rooting for her. It was a pure joy watching her skate and you could sense her sadness and sorrow and feel nothing but compassion for her. We all know she was hurting and skating with a heavy heart and to see her skate so beautifully and with such love in her heart was truly wonderful and very inspiring. We all saw her skate and realize her dream of skating in the Olympics for herself, her family and her country. She was missing her mother and knew that her mother would want her to skate and do her best.

I was so touched by her performance and when I saw her complete her program and look up in tribute to her loving mother and then start to cry my heart went out to her as did everyone watching and I too could not help but cry. She really is such a sweet young lady and you could see how proud her coach was as she led her to the bench where they would await her score. She was skating for more than a medal and there was not a dry eye in the arena where she skated such a lovely performance. Her scores were very good and that meant her chances of winning a medal were hopeful with that beautiful performance and unexpected tribute to her mom. She certainly won the hearts of all watching the woman’s figure skating and she shined.

You could see her dad in the crowd watching his daughter with pride and tears in his eyes and all you could feel for them both was that their healing will come in time and that the strength they show continue as a new chapter in their lives has begun and now they must be there for each other. It is hard to pick up the pieces and find the strength to continue but it is essential that they support each other through this sad and difficult time. Sometimes when you are trying to deal with a tragedy it is important to occupy your time wisely and not dwell on the tragedy. It is human nature to feel a sense of loss and sorrow when losing someone so close. That is why it is important to try to continue your same routines and to also devote time to remember the good times shared with your loved one and to cherish them always.

When Joannie took the ice her second time for the medal you could see she was ready and holding up well. She was certainly admired for all she has shown and what she has recently endured and for her true spirit as a woman’s figure skater. As soon as she skated her routine and acknowledged the crowd cheering her she took the bench with her coach by her side and she was pleasantly surprised that she was in the running for third place. Everyone cheered for her and she had now become a hero to all who watched her perform and learned of her story and saw her remarkable performance which became a loving tribute to her mom.

After the last skater performed and did a nice job to bring her from 6th to 4th place it was then realized that Joannie indeed won the bronze medal and the crowds erupted with such joy and happiness and I admit to crying tears of sadness and joy for her. Her story is a poignant one and she has inspired so many with her tremendous talent and her courage and we all were happy for her as she stood on the stage adorned with her bronze medal and we were feeling that her courage displayed is worthy of a gold medal and that we learned a lot from her and are very happy to see her more in the future under better circumstances.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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