Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Joubert opens his heart, overcomes obstacles

Brian Joubert has been on every world podium since 2006, even winning a gold medal in 2007. As he starts what may be his last Olympic season, he took the time to detail his new team, new program and hopes for

A much talked about program

"I have kept last year's short program," Joubert explained. "It really suits me well. I have proved it last year [Joubert won that section in Los Angeles, prior to faltering in the free to take a final third place]. My free program is completely new, however, and it is absolutely superb. It requires a huge amount of work, however, but I feel great on it."

"A program to win," was the unanimous comment judges gave when they saw Joubert's new free program to "Ancient Lands," by Irish composer Ronan Hardiman.

"As soon as I heard that music," Joubert explained, "I knew it would be for me."

Joubert's choreography was crafted by world ice dancing gold medalists Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski. Joubert says he always admired them when they were competing.

"The program they made is technically very demanding. This is normal. After all, it is an Olympic program and it can not be an easy one! Yet, I love it so much that I do not count my time," he added. "We work really hard on it." Incidentally, "Ancient Lands" was the theme of Alexei Yagudin's exhibition program in 2002 -- the year he won the Olympic gold. A reference Joubert does not deny, as he has always been a big fan of Yagudin's.

A completely renewed team

Joubert has gathered his own "Olympic team" during the summer. After splitting with his former coach Jean-Christophe Simond at the end of last season, Joubert has decided to turn again to Laurent Depouilly, his former coach who he won his European title with in 2005. Depouilly, who was coaching his own daughter south of Bordeaux, has now left his family behind to relocate near Joubert's home city of Poitiers for the season.

The idea of calling Denkova and Staviski may be credited to Nathalie Depouilly, the wife of Joubert's coach. Nathalie, a French team member in ice dancing in the 1980s, and a renowned ice dancing coach in France, saw the potential to create the free program of her husband's protégé with the Bulgarian duo.

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