Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Four Frenchmen battle for two Olympic spots

As everyone knows, the Three Musketeers of Alexandre Dumas' famous novel were in fact four (Athos, Portos, Aramis and D'Artagnan). Today's French male skating is about the same, with Brian Joubert as the leader, Alban Préaubert and Yannick Ponsero as the perennial "best enemies" and Florent Amodio as the new comer. Two of them only will be selected for the Olympic Games. French nationals, to be held in a little less than a week in Marseille, should be one of the main milestones on the road to Vancouver.

Amazingly enough, Joubert was already declared qualified by the French Federation last summer, in order to let him focus more on his preparation than on his selection.

Joubert's goals are clear.

"If I can grasp any competition and victory," Joubert said, "I will take it. If I can keep my European title, I will. Yet it is not my goal for this season. I want to be 100 percent at the Games, not before."

Joubert's early season was by not his best by far, with a fourth-place finish at the Trophee Eric Bompard and a gold medal at the NHK Trophy. He injured himself two weeks ago while rehearsing his triple Lutz. His foot was successfully operated on the next day. Ligaments had to be repaired, but his bones were not hurt, so Joubert hoped to come back rapidly to the ice. He nonetheless had to withdraw from the ISU Grand Prix Final. He resumed training earlier this week.

"I am landing triples -- Salchow and toe loop mainly -- without any problem", he said. "I am a bit more reluctant on the loop. Yet, obviously, I am not trying the Lutz or the flip," he added.

It is still unknown if Joubert will withdraw from the French championships, but he should at least be in the stands in Marseille to watch his colleagues.

Amodio is by far the lesser known of the four, yet he is also the one to watch. Amodio has reached international fame only on the Junior Grand Prix so far. Last season, he won one ISU Junior Grand Prix (Sheffield) and the Final. He did not fare nearly as well at Junior worlds, however. He then prepared for his first season in the senior ranks.

Full article.

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