Canadian figure skating observers had wondered for years about when the country's programs would produce a women's singles performer who had the mental toughness to win.
Joannie Rochette continues to prove she's their girl.
The 22-year-old Île-Dupas, Quebec, resident pulled herself up from a relatively rotten performance in the short program to take third in the free skate at the Grand Prix Final in Goyang City, South Korea, on Saturday night.
OK, that's not a gold medal (defending world champion Mao Asada of Japan took that with Yu-Na Kim of Korea second and Carolina Kostner of Italy third), but it was good enough for a strong fourth place and a chance to refocus over the holiday break.
Rochette could have mailed this performance in and gone home without much said, but that didn't happen.
"This was good because it gives me a good wake-up call, that I need to prepare better," said Rochette by conference call as she headed back to the hotel on the team bus.
"When I got back from France [Grand Prix event], I wasn't very careful with my health and I need to be more responsible for the future."
A little stressed
Rochette wasn't partying, or anything, just a little overwork (on the ice and in the classroom) and the bad back in the morning was a result. That meant two missed days training.
Still, no excuse.
"My back now is very good, healthy again, but with school and everything I was stressed out and I need to learn to relax and get my priorities [straight]."
The short program included a couple of jumps Rochette opened up and a lack of overall snap, both leaving the two-time Grand Prix winner this season a little mad at herself.
"In the short, I was very disappointed, obviously. It was disastrous for me so to come back after [that] was my goal," she said.
"I was very proud of the long program tonight — I was missing a bit of stamina all week and was very tired."
Training at 8 or 9 p.m. Korean time each night (very early morning back home) also didn't help, but Rochette refused to use that as an excuse, either.
Chan upset with himself
Patrick Chan had an almost mirror experience on the men's side.
The Toronto resident came into the competition as the top seed having won two Grand Prix events, and he was looking to stay ahead of chief rival Brian Joubert of France.
Neither brought home great memories.
Chan was also sixth in the short program after falling on his opening triple Axel and on the triple Lutz.
Saturday, the Canadian moved up to fifth after Joubert dropped out with a back injury and Chan called the overall experience "a punch in the ego."
"I think after the short I really beat myself up, I was pretty upset," he said, on the same conference call.
"I try my best and try to be happy — keep it cool — and think things will turn around. We're human beings, not robots, and can't always be perfect."
Chan knows the history
Chan is aware of the growing hopes that he could be the one to bring home an Olympic gold medal in men's singles — something no one in the country's history has been able to do despite multiple world champions.
"Canadian [men] having a bad history at the Olympics always makes me really strive and it's time to show that Canada can do good," Chan says. "I always think about it — that I will be the one who brings the gold medal home."
Jeremy Abbott of the United States is bringing the gold home from the Grand Prix final this time, as his first in the free skate moved him up a place.
Takahiko Kozuka of Japan had led after the short program but he fell to third in the free, holding on to second overall with Johnny Weir of the U.S. third.
Both Canadian skaters were blown away by the loud, enthusiastic crowds who pack figure skating events in the Republic of Korea.
"I think Korea was a pretty big experience, considering the fans," Chan said. "I came in the summer to do a show and got a taste of the fans and how crazy they are here.
"It takes the breath out of you."