- Figure Skating
In his fourth Olympics, Brian Joubert is finally skating for himself
SOCHI, Russia – Months away from his 30th birthday, Brian Joubert wants just one thing in his final event as a competitive skater: to perform well.
The Frenchman who has six world championship medals – including gold in 2007 – only has “bad memories” from his three prior trips to the Olympics and would like to make a few good ones in Sochi before he calls it a career.
“I want to skate well and enjoy the competition,” Joubert told NBCOlympics.com Thursday. “In the past, the Olympic Games have been bad for me, so I want to finish with a good one.”
Joubert will skate Sunday night at the Iceberg Skating Palace in the sport’s inaugural team event, his fourth appearance at an Olypmics. In 2002 he finished 14th, 2006 sixth and 2010 16th.
“These Olympics, they are like my first Olympic Games because in Vancouver I didn't stay in the Olympic village,” Joubert said. “That was a big mistake. Now I'm staying with the French team and we have a lot of fun. Of course it's a big competition, but it's not the end of my life.”
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At times there have been quarrels with other skaters and the French federation, but at 29 Joubert seems to have put all of that behind him, aiming just to soak up his ice time in Sochi 12 years after his Olympic debut.
A trip here looked questionable at points during the fall, when Joubert had left his training base in Paris to move back home to Poitiers, a three-hour train ride away, and work at a new rink there while dealing with an ailing back. He pulled out of Skate America and then skipped the Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris.
“In the Olympic season it's important to do any competition, even if you aren't ready,” the 2007 world champion said. “It was very difficult for me to start the season at the European Championships, but I didn't have a choice. My body was in so much pain, I couldn't do anything, I couldn't do quad jumps.”
Those quad jumps have been his career signature. He landed one at Euros last month, finishing a respectable eighth after a solid free skate at an event he has won three times in his career.
“I feel confident,” a smiling Joubert said. “We worked very hard at Europeans and I'm very happy to be here to be at the Olympics for my last competition.”
With expectations heaped on his shoulders in both Torino and Vancouver, Joubert faltered, failing to become the first French medalist in singles since Philippe Candeloro won bronze in 1998.
But in Sochi, there is no expectation – internally or externally – for Joubert to win a medal. He aims only to perform well and then return home, where he plans to teach at the new rink in Poitiers and perform in touring shows.
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“I don't think I can win a medal,” he said frankly. “To be honest, I want to do a nice job and I want to skate well, but there are so many good skaters that to get a medal, well, it's not impossible, but it's not my goal.”
Asked if he will be sad as he skates the last programs of his over dozen-year career, Joubert broke into a face-crunching smile.
“No! No, no, no. I'm going to be happy,” he said confidently. “I'm very happy that this is my last competition. I cannot do more. I really just want to have a normal life; to see my friends and do things for myself.”