SPORTS

Olympic medallist Rochette misses competitive training but enjoys life on, off ice

06/01/2015 01:37 EDT | Updated 06/01/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - When she's not entertaining crowds on the ice, Joannie Rochette has embraced a new thrill that has her soaring above ground.

"I started skydiving last fall and did my solo certification and got really into it," said the figure skater, 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 of the 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 practise your little routine over and over again until you have control and until you can master all of those tricks."

The Ile-Dupas, Que., native achieved significant success during her competitive career as a six-time Canadian national champion and silver medallist at the 2009 world championships.

In a defining moment of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Rochette captured bronze just days after her mother died of a heart attack. She was selected to carry Canada's flag at the closing ceremony and returned home to grieve.

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

Rochette said she wanted to compete in the team event at the 2014 Sochi Games. However, she said rules requiring participation in the singles event along with points she needed prior to the Games 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," said Rochette, who has participated in open contests.

"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."

The skater was recently in Toronto during a two-week break from the 25th anniversary tour of Stars on Ice. Rochette said she's had to become a lot more self-disciplined with her diet and fitness regimen while on the road.

The brand ambassador for non-dairy beverage Almond Breeze keeps nourished with smoothies, oatmeal and healthy snacks. She also incorporates exercises that foster endurance, power and flexibility, including cardio and explosive workouts, like sprints.

Rochette said she also loves Rollerblading, biking, dancing, Pilates and yoga as well as any activity that relates to music, such as Zumba.

Being a part of a figure skating tour also presents fresh challenges for Rochette — as well as freedom.

"You need to be focused to learn all those steps. But it's fun to be able to perform without the pressure, without the judges counting every rotation, every little mistake that you will make.

"Now our judge is the audience."

— Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.

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