It was almost an impossible amount of pressure, competing for her country's first women's figure skating medal in more than two decades while still mourning the painful and unexpected death of her mother.
Although not the technical favorite heading into Thursday's finale, she was the sentimental choice for many. She landed her triple lutz, double-toe jump, but then struggled later while landing another triple.
Rochette finished by blowing a kiss to her mother, who died of a heart attack Sunday while in Vancouver. Her father was visibly moved watching his daughter push through her unimaginable grief.
Rochette said after her performance that she was proud of her showing and considered it a lifetime project between her and her mother.
Not only is Kim the first figure skating champion from South Korea, her victory was also a win for her Canadian coach Brian Orser. Orser lost the gold himself to Brian Boitano in the legendary 1988 men's figure skating battle.
With Japan's Mao Asada taking the silver medal, the Americans were shut out of the podium for the first time since 1964. U.S. teenager Mirai Nagasu finished fourth, her teammate Rachel Flatt finished seventh.
It was a result that Nagasu said she was pleased with even if she didn't bring home the hardware.
"I'm just happy I was able to be right behind those top competitors because it's my first really big international competition," Nagasu said told the Associated Press.
"Most 16-year-olds medal at their first Olympics," Nagasu said. "I'm sorry that I wasn't able to keep up that U.S. trend. But, hopefully, I'll be able to make up for it when I get to come back, I hope, for the next Olympics."
Nagasu said she is now looking forward to the 2014 Sochi Games, when she'll be just a bit older than Kim and Asada are now.
"At 16, you don't have the experience and the maturity that they skate with," she said. "Hopefully, by that time I'll be able to get that."
Flatt told the Associated Press that she was a bit disappointed with her performance. She lost points when she was unable to finish her triple-flip rotations.
"I wish that I could've gotten a better score, but you make do and just continue to improve," she said. "Got to make sure I fix those flips."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.