National championships have always been a major challenge for skaters all around the globe, especially in traditionally big skating countries. France was no exception this weekend. Nationals were held in the newly opened rink of Marseille, in the deep south of France, close to the Mediterranean Sea, with one major target at stake: a ticket for Vancouver for the men and the pairs. While Florent Amodio has won both the title and his selection for the Games, the selection process remains open in the pairs.
Brian Joubert withdrew from the French National Championships as expected, but he was nonetheless present in the stands, to watch the fierce battle to determine who would accompany him to Vancouver next February.
With three world class skaters vying for one single spot in the Olympic team, many thought that the short program would play a determining role. It was not the case, however, as all three main contenders skated a nearly flawless program. Yannick Ponsero came out in first place, thanks to the only clean quad of the field. Ponsero landed a magnificent quadruple toe to double toe combination, as well as a perfect triple Axel, which owed him a unanimous +2 GOE. He faltered however at the beginning of his circular step sequence.
Florent Amodio, fresh from the junior ranks (Amodio won the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final in 2009), skated a very artistic program, and successfully landed his triple Salchow to triple toe and triple Axel to take the second place. Alban Préaubert also skated flawless and landed his triple flip to triple toe and triple Axel.
The free program concentrated all hopes -- and energies. Amodio emerged first tonight, more than 7 points ahead of Ponsero and Préaubert, thanks to a faultless free program.
No Olympian in ice dancing
There was not nearly as much at stake in the ice dancing event, as both quotas for Vancouver had already been allotted. Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder, the 2008 World gold medalists, are still in the "ramp up" process after Delobel welcomed her 1st child early October. The duo did not expect to participate in those nationals, as they are currently working hard in their home rink in Lyon to get ready in time for the European Championships. The French Federation had qualified them for Vancouver much earlier in the season anyway.