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Brian Joubert still loves to skate

Veteran French competitor has not lost his passion

Brian Joubert has participated in three Olympics, but he still believes he can be a factor in 2014.
Brian Joubert has participated in three Olympics, but he still believes he can be a factor in 2014. (Getty Images)

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By Jean-Christophe Berlot
(10/31/2011) - With six world medals (gold in 2007, silver in 2004, '06 and '08 and bronze in '09 and '10) and 10 European medals (with three gold in 2004, '07 and '09) but no Olympic one after participating three times (in 2002, '06 and '10), Brian Joubert has now become one of the veterans of the competitive field. At 27, he has nonetheless decided to keep going until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, where he would love to face his archrival, Evgeni Plushenko, one more time. He took the time to talk with icenetwork.com about his prospects on the season to come.

Icenetwork.com: What are your objectives for this season?

Joubert: Cup of China first and above all! As you may know, I have won every Grand Prix series event throughout my career, but one: Cup of China. So this upcoming week will be very important for me, and it will be one of my major objectives this season. The competition promises to be of quite high caliber, just like the Trophée Eric Bompard in Paris [the other Grand Prix where Joubert is scheduled to skate]. Europeans and worlds will be quite important for me also, of course!

Icenetwork.com: What programs do you have this year?

Joubert: The short program is new. I skate it to the group Justice, a French group I like. We created the program with David Wilson in Toronto last summer. We have worked a lot on the transitions.

The free program is different. We should have kept Beethoven's 9th Symphony for the long, but I could not. It is a great program, and it has allowed me to improve a lot. Yet it does not look like me. I made a big effort last year, and one season will be enough. I may still change my mind, but we have decided to come back to my best program ever, the 2004 one set to Matrix. It is the program which suits me best, the one that is the best structured altogether. I never feel tired when I skate to "Matrix." Can you believe that my costume was still good for me?

Icenetwork.com: What about your team? You have been known in the past to change rather quickly.

Joubert: I have kept the same team. Actually, I will not change anymore and will skate the rest of my career with Véronique Guyon as a coach and David Wilson as a choreographer.

Icenetwork.com: You have been at the top level for the last 10 seasons. What keeps you going?

Joubert: I still like it! I love skating and I love competing. Also, I see that I am still on track. That keeps me going!

I have experienced many injuries and several major problems throughout my career. But as you can see, I am still around. I know that I have not reached my peak yet. I know that I keep improving, both on skates and in my life. It means a lot to me.

On the ice, for instance, I managed to start working on the quadruple Salchow again. Now I land it again. And the quad toe is still very strong.

Off the ice, I can feel all the experience I have accumulated now. I see things very differently. I have a better approach.

As long as I love skating, I will keep going!

Icenetwork.com: So you are saying that we will see you for a long time then!

Joubert: (Laughing) No, I will not go farther than 2014! Anyway, I plan not to skate complete seasons in the upcoming years. I had said it before, and I am going to really do it.

As you can notice, most of the very best skaters in the world have organized themselves some kind of breaks or "off" seasons. I think I would need the same, after 10 years at the top. It would make me more hungry for competitions.

This would mean skating only at Europeans at worlds -- and French nationals, of course, to be qualified for international events!

This would also mean skipping competitions at the start of the season. Of course, I will need to keep a strong training discipline, but I am used to that. Also, I always fear I will not be able to start again after a break. Maybe this is why I have not done it yet! Still, Evgeni [Plushenko]'s comeback [in 2010] proves that when you really want something, you can achieve it.

Icenetwork.com: And after 2014?

Joubert: I would love to coach!

Icenetwork.com: How do you adapt to the younger generation?

Joubert: This is a big challenge. On the one hand, I like that guys like Florent Amodio are around. He kind of holds off pressure from my own shoulders. On the other, I have seen so many changes since I started skating at the world level.

It has been difficult for me to get into the international judging system. I can not calculate during a program. It is not my thing at all! I really preferred the 6.0 system. It looked far more natural to me. Skaters did not need to do [so many additional movements] as they have to now.

Icenetwork.com: You mean transitions?

Joubert: I have to say that transitions in edges do add a lot to skating. When you watch skaters from the past on YouTube, like John Curry or Robin Cousins [Olympic gold medalists in 1976 and 1980, respectively], you can see that they did skate many edge transitions, and it was beautiful to watch. But additional arm movements do not bring nearly as much, at least I feel so.

Still, I have come to recognize that I had no choice but to get into that judging system. And I must admit that it has enhanced skating significantly.

Even after so many years, I don't feel ridiculous in today's skating world. I completely missed my short program at the last worlds in Moscow, but I finished fourth in the free. Some judges keep telling me that they enjoy the way I skate. They still see me in the world's top five male skaters.

After this interview was conducted, Joubert announced his withdrawal from the Cup of China due to back problems.