Brian Joubert is the reigning French National Champion who by the
age of eighteen had already competed in two World Championships and the
2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games. Since, Joubert has been preparing for
the skating season as well as having fun on the French Tour. This summer,
after his final performance of a tour, his cast-mates got to play a few
naughty tricks on him. After being thoroughly drenched in cold water,
Joubert performed his encore and the crowd roared with applause and cheer
as he skated the footwork sequences from last season's programs. Taking
his final bows, the good-natured French skater then had to do a couple of
circuits around the ice while wearing a thong over his clothes. From
rinkside, it looked like the bright red undergarment almost matched the
crimson blush on his face.
Kathleen: You seem inevitably to get compared with
Olympic Champion Alexei Yagudin, which in many ways is a mystery as you're
French, he's Russian, and besides both having used the same choreographer
last season, there really aren't that many similarities. Why do you think
that happens, and how do you feel about the comparison?
Brian: Maybe it came from my remarks at the 2002
European Championships, when I so happily found myself on the podium with
Alexei. For me it was the first time in front of a big international
audience. I had just gotten third at the French Nationals, so I was
qualified for the Europeans and I was pleased just to be in the event.
After the qualifying round I was in second, after the short in third, and
then it was a very big surprise when I finished in third place overall
with the bronze. It was unbelievable to find myself on the podium with
Alexei Yagudin, my favorite skater.
Kathleen: There was great controversy over the results
at the 2002 Europeans. Some felt that Alexander Abt, with perhaps the best
skate ever of his Rachmaninoff free program, should have been placed
first. Did you agree with the outcome?
Brian: Yes, I thought Alexei deserved the win, because
he has - how do you say it? - he has a presence on the ice.
Kathleen: Last season you won Skate America, after
Alexei Yagudin's sudden and forced withdrawal. Do you think, taking his
hip injury out of the equation, you could beat him?
Brian: If I am ever able to compete against Alexei
Yagudin, I want to win, I want to be the best. I know he has problems with
his hip, and I think at last year's Skate America - where I competed
against him in the short program - he was not like he was at his Olympics,
not at his top. I hope he can come back again to compete, if he feels
good, and I hope he can jump quads again, because he is my favorite
skater, but I still want to be the best.
Kathleen: What do you admire in his style over
Brian: I don't like Plushenko's skating, it's - how do
you say, um, too "showy"? I prefer the masculine style. Evgeny is of
course a good skater, but I prefer the style of Alexei.
Kathleen: What has been one of your biggest on-ice
Brian: In 1998 I skated in my first French Masters,
our first big event of the season. I finished way down in eighth place
because I hadn't worked hard enough over the summer. After that
competition, I realized that I had to work much harder and it motivated
me. I think it was a very bad competition for me at the time, but it was
good for the next one, because I began to work harder.
Kathleen: Tell me a little about skating with the Les
Etoiles de las Glace, the French Stars On Ice?
Brian: This summer I think the show was good. It's not
a big show, and for me, because I am beginning to entertain, it's good as
I am young and have many things to learn. Because it is in my country and
I get to travel and skate with my friends and team, it is perfect.
Kathleen: Yes, what could be better than that. You're
only nineteen, the national champion of your country, and skating on a
tour - life is pretty good?
Brian: Yes, very! (laughing)
Kathleen: Tell me about your training regimen.
Brian: For my practices, I usually skate about twenty
hours a week. I tried doing weightlifting but immediately gave it up as I
bulked up too much right away, so I stopped. I also did modern dance for
one year, but it was boring, I didn't really like it. I also do some
off-ice exercise a couple times a week for stamina.
Kathleen: What is something you would like to try?
Brian: I want to get a bike, a sports motorcycle.
Kathleen: Like a Yamaha? A "crotch-rocket" bike?
Brian: Yes (laughs), exactly, but I have to wait. For
the moment, it is too dangerous for me, but maybe in the future.
Kathleen: Because you're French, I have to ask - do
you prefer red wine or white? Blanc or rouge?
Brian: Well, since I am so young I obviously am not
suppose to drink wine. But yes, this is France, so even though I don't
drink much, I prefer the white, the blanc.
Kathleen: What was it like working with Nikolai
Morozov again this summer in Connecticut. Did he choreograph a new long
program for you?
Brian: Yes, I went to work with Nikolai in July for
about ten days. He created my new program to music from the film the
Matrix. I adore working with him as he is a very original choreographer,
very professional, and a kind person.
Kathleen: So this season you'll do three Grand Prix
events - Trophee Lalique of course, the new Cup of China, and NHK in
Japan. How do you feel about China being your first competition?
Brian: I think it's dangerous to go to China if the
SARS problem arises again, but it was a good idea to do a Grand Prix event
in china, and I hope to do another one over there sometime in the future.
As for this new season, I believe Trophee Lalique is my most important
Grand Prix event. Then I will skate at Nationals, Europeans, and I'm
planning on the World Championships.
I do not have any particular strategy to try to win the series, I will
just work hard to beat my adversaries. The Grand Prix Final is much
earlier in the season, I like that - I think it's much better. I did
compete at a Skate America two years ago in Colorado Springs (where the
GPF will be held this season) and it was very difficult due to the
Kathleen: Many skaters complain of that because of the
elevation, especially if they smoke.
Brian: That's true, some skaters smoke a lot, but I
Kathleen: Anything you would like your fans to know as
you embark on the beginning of the new season?
Brian: Yes, I have many great friends and fans around
the world and I want to say "thank you" to all of them and to everybody,
they are very important to me. When I competed at last season's Grand Prix
Final I was scared. It was in St. Petersburg, Russia, and because I'm
French I did not know how I would be received, but the fans were wonderful
Kathleen: Bon Chance, Brian - and we hope to see you
at the Grand Prix Final this season.
Kathleen Bangs (Golden Skate), October 24, 2003