Parisian ratatouille: Day Three at Trophée BompardWhat's up with Joubert?; Hunting down quotes from Cesario; A royal visit
Jean-Christophe Berlot checks in with news and notes from Day Three of 2013 Trophée Eric Bompard.
It was quite late Friday night when we left the Paris Bercy arena, a bit past 11 p.m. Inside the rink, technicians were testing the lighting for the final exhibitions. The 7,000 spectators who had come to the short programs had left with stars in their eyes, after the glorious page skaters had written on the ice sheet in front of us. The streets were quiet … until a human shade ran along the street. Then another came and another right after, and then a whole flock, and soon a whole crowd flowing like a river. They were roller skating. Every Friday night, Paris' inline skaters gather at a given point and skate around 20 kilometers in the streets of the city. This week, they had elected to cross the Bercy arena. They passed at a stunning speed, and then the street was quiet again. "Skate in Paris" a banner said on the organizers' car behind them. Skating has taken Paris by storm!
Joubert or not Joubert?
A rumor took the press center by storm Friday in Paris: Brian Joubert might withdraw from the Rostelcom Cup next week. Joubert had already withdrawn from the French Masters and Skate America last month, but he was planning to make his season debut next week. The French federation president, who decided not to send Joubert to Detroit as he felt the 2007 world gold medalist was not ready, went to Joubert's rink in Poitiers last week. The rumor had amplified Saturday morning. According to the main sports newspaper in France, L'Equipe, Joubert was preparing a new "secret" free program, which might not be ready yet. "Nothing is official yet," the French federation press officers said right away. "You have to wait for an official statement. There is none." Oh, well. For the last two weeks, rumors went that Lenaëlle Gilleron-Gory, Daria Popova and Bruno Massot, and Chafik Besseghier were injured and had to withdraw from the Trophée Bompard. There was never an official statement; yet each time, the rumor was correct. Will it be the same this time? One thing is sure, though: Joubert will be at his newly rebuilt rink this Saturday for its official inauguration. He'd better be: Some rumors suggest that it might bear his name. There was no official statement yet, though.
Begging for advice
Imagine the case. You are a modest writer trying to send his columns to your favorite ice skating website. The four short program and dance competitions are running back to back. You have just left the ice dance press conference, which started quite late, the same time as when the first group of ladies takes the ice. You absolutely need a quote from Samantha Cesario, whom you have just seen skate beautifully. She is not coming to the mixed zone, and the next skaters are taking the ice. What do you do?
Quick please, it's online!
Well, you just give up and go back to your seat in the stands to watch the next group without any quote from Samantha. And then you have the best surprise of your whole life: Samantha had just sat down a couple of rows higher. You feel blessed: Your icenetwork readers will get a quote from Samantha!
Skating is good for health!
The press has been parked in seldom-used seats (as may be noticed from the dust that covers them) at the very end of the rink, higher above the ice surface. It's good for your physical shape, though: When you want to go to the mixed zone to meet with a competitor, you have to rush about 30 steps down, then run for 200 meters through the corridors, be aggressed by a security man who wants to make sure his power is recognized, and go back to your seat for the next competitor!
Her Royal Skating Highness
Far gone is the time when the three kings who succeeded one another as the heads of England were coming to watch the 1928 skating world championships at the Westminster ice rink in London (George V, Edward VIII and George VI). Still, Saturday morning, as the men were taking the ice for the last official practice before their free skate, three young people entered into the arena. We were at most 100 people in the stands. Entering first was Her Royal Highness, Princess Alexandra de Hanovre (Caroline de Monaco's daughter), with her press officer and body guard -- but who could tell?
"I just love to come to practice sessions," Princess Alexandra kindly explained. "I love skating, and it is interesting to watch the programs before competition. It is rare to have competitions near where you live. I love the morning atmosphere, too."
Princess Alexandra is, in fact, a big fan of figure skating.
"I do skate in Monaco and Nice during the year," she explained. "In the summer, I go train in Annecy. One day I met Kim [Lucine] (who skates for Monaco on the international scene and is the son of Didier Lucine, who coaches in Annecy some of the best ladies skaters in France), and he asked me if I wanted to join them. So I go back there to have my programs ready. This year I am skating to the Life Is Beautiful soundtrack," she said.
When she was told that this column would be for icenetwork, she smiled broadly: "That's the one I read!" she said.
Princess Alexandra, this column is dedicated to you. We should all know as we write that there is a Royal Highness who shares our love for skating.
The Japanese press is very zealous around the Japanese skaters at the Bercy arena. Yuzuru Hanyu's bright performance in the short program even increased his status as a star. Dozens of cameras press him in and out of the rink at every moment.
This morning, in the endless corridors of the Bercy arena where skaters and coaches alike get lost year after year, a Japanese TV crew was just trying to find its way around. One of them was a bit earlier and sat down in an office door step. When asked if everything was OK with him, he put his finger across his mouth: His colleagues were arriving not far behind. As they approached, he suddenly burst out of his hiding spot to wake them up. The deadly corridor had suddenly turned into a joyful party of TV buddies.
Japanese television is everywhere, but it will have missed that show.