Brian Joubert

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 Plushenko's?

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 disappointments?

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 altitude.

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 don't.

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 to me!

Kathleen: Bon Chance, Brian - and we hope to see you at the Grand Prix Final this season.

Kathleen Bangs (Golden Skate), October 24, 2003
, © 2006