Joannie Rochette has been on the scene for many years, and she competed in the last Olympic games, finishing fifth. At 23 years old and with a ton of experience, she is a mature skater, but she's had issues with both the mental and physical sides of skating for years. Last year she broke through with several good performances and garnered a silver medal at the World Championships.
Rochette started out this season on shaky ground. She finished a dismal third at Cup of China and won Skate Canada with a very sloppy effort and some generous scoring.
Rochette has been working with a sports psychologist to build up her mental approach to skating. It seems there are plenty of excuses when she errs - last season she was focusing too much on schoolwork and this season it was her newfound celebrity and overcommitting herself to various projects. Apparently, Rochette has refocused on skating since her disastrous Grand Prix Final performance.
Still, Rochette started out her nationals with a fall in the short program. However, she landed all of her jumps cleanly in the free skate to show she's strong heading into the Olympics.
The Programs: Both programs are good but they don't quite make it into the great category - and I think a lot of that has to do with Rochette not selling the performances as much as she could. However, that is a bit of nitpicking - Rochette is naturally a beautiful skater, and in comparison with several of the other top females, I think her programs are more effective.
Latest Performance: She bombed the short program and then rocked the free skate at the Canadian championships. However, her free did not include a triple/triple and I personally think it lacked a bit of energy.
Strengths: Like i said, she has a maturity that makes her skating lovely. She'll get high program components as well.
Weaknesses: It may be psychological, because we know that she can land the jumps. Luckily for Rochette, this year the top ladies have been very sloppy so she may be able to fall and still stay on the podium. But it's unclear how the hopes of the home country will weigh on Rochette during the Olympics - or if they will help boost her to a medal.
It gives me the creeps when: She starts doubling jumps. Ugh!
I think it's awesome when: She skates clean, because she is a very powerful skater.
Outlook: I think Rochette has a very good chance of medaling if she can keep it together and skate clean enough. How amazing would it be for her to win the first Canadian ladies skating medal since Elizabeth Manley did it 22 years ago - at the last Canadian Olympics?