Paris potpourri: Au revoir from Trophee Bompard

Joubert's snakes, Abbott's poetic free skate, Amodio's many programs and Mura's coach/father

Takahito Mura and his father, Takashi, had a week to remember in Paris.
Takahito Mura and his father, Takashi, had a week to remember in Paris. (Getty Images)


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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to
(11/19/2012) - Jean-Christophe Berlot checks in at the conclusion of 2012 Trophée Eric Bompard with a collection of notes about the competition.

From "snake" to "skate"

Brian Joubert offered the press a good round of laughter the other evening. After reading his interview on some two weeks ago, a renowned female journalist asked him if indeed he needed to come back to his hometown of Poitiers every weekend for his mom's cooking.

Joubert admitted it laughingly.

"I also need to come back home every weekend to see my buddies," Joubert said, "And to take care of my pets."

Joubert explained that he had two dogs: "A big and a small one." But no cats: "The dog would eat them!"

He then added that he had some snakes to take care of -- no fewer than six! He did not mention their names, however.

Anyway, one thing is sure: Joubert does not take them out for jogging: "I still can't jog. I am literally dead after half an hour," he admitted.

One day, maybe he'll take his snakes to the rink. Everything there is a matter of gliding, right?


Saturday morning, Jeremy Abbott's last practice session before his free program in Paris went well. He landed all his elements, except for one: the quad.

French poet Lamartine once wrote, "One missing makes the whole world empty." But Abbott was skating to Victor Hugo's theme (Les Misérables), not to Lamartine. Quad missing ... so what, when you have so much to express and so much vocabulary to express it?

How much effort it takes to find out who one really is...

Florent Amodio is soon to break a special record: one for the number of different programs he creates every year. Last year he changed twice, this year he switched from Charlie Chaplin to "Jumpin' Jack" and "Broken Sorrow" in the free, and he is now talking of changing his short program from flamenco to ... something else.

"You know," Amodio said half-laughingly, "A season is long. Keeping the same program is boring," he concluded, laughing completely.

"More seriously," he added, "It's important for me to express my personality the best I can. I want to show my best, whatever work it requires."

The quest for one's personality may take a big toll.

Skating autographs

Usually, there was a tough security guard at each stairway leading from the rink to the stands in Bercy.

Not this time.

About 50 kids spent their afternoon running back and forth each time a skater or a team would leave the kiss and cry -- that is, quite often. Spectators seated around that area had to change seats to simply view the ice sheet.

The kids may have come to watch skating, but their real game was to catch autographs. Any skater willing to watch in that area needed about half an hour's worth of signatures before even turning his/her eyes toward the ice.

Passion has to start somewhere. Maybe autographs?

"Love you, dad!"

Takahito Mura, who won the men's event, was asked an interesting question during the press conference: "How is it to be coached by one's father?"

Mura started to answer that it was not an easy question.

"In fact, I know that my dad will always be here for me, even when I make mistakes. If anything does not go well, he will always help me; he will never let me down. I have a great partnership with my father," he remarked with more and more tenderness in his voice.

Then he offered a joke to conclude: "You know, if I were not training with him, we would never talk of skating at home!"

Mura finished his sentence and then he looked over: His father (and coach) was just behind the journalists, in the same room. He had heard it all!

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Forgotten: Two teddy bears (white), a pig (fluorescent pink), an elephant (light pink), a tiger (tiger orange), lost with two flower bouquets (one artificial, one natural) in a corner of the kiss and cry. Plus a grey hedgehog.

Quick: All crying. Don't know what to do with them!

So long...

Trophée Bompard has crowned its champions for the year. The white projectors have been switched off, the colored ones are being turned on for the final exhibition. Only the three top-ranked skaters in each discipline were requested to skate ... until the organizers realized that they needed more and requested many more to skate Sunday. Most will leave Monday -- except the French, of course.

And except Christina Gao, who decided to stay an extra day.

"I'll do sightseeing with my dad," she explained. "I'd like to see Notre Dame and the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower."

The trees of Paris are turning yellow now, and leaves are falling down.

Thank you to those who have followed us throughout this Grand Prix in Paris. NHK will be starting in just a few days in Japan. Skating is a blessing to any city in the world!