French star Brian Joubert was happy to report that the off-season was an injury-free one for him.
“I had a good summer. I especially enjoyed attending Alexei Urmanov’s summer camp in Sweden,” the three-time European champion said. “Working with him was my idea and that of Didier Gailhaguet (the French federation president). I was in Luleå for three weeks starting in mid-July. I worked with Alexei’s Russian skaters, who were very nice and friendly to me.”
Joubert had previously worked with the Russian coach in May 2010 when Urmanov, the 1994 Olympic champion, held a clinic in Paris for the French team. “I spent just a day with him but he did a great job,” Joubert recalled.
“This year, he taught me a lot about technique. We did not rush things. My work was clean, and that was a change from previous years. Every day I had two group training sessions and then one just for me. I was impressed with Alexei, because he was doing all the exercises himself. He was a great inspiration, and I will be inspired by his example when I turn to a coaching career.”
Joubert also spent time in Canada during the summer. “I went back to Toronto to see David Wilson. I discovered him a year ago when he choreographed my free program (which Joubert will keep for the 2011-12 season). I was happy to see him again in Canada and we also connected again in Korea when I skated in Yuna Kim’s shows after Worlds,” Joubert said.
“Each time, it was a pleasure to meet with him. He is an extraordinary person on and off the ice. In life, I barely give full trust to people, but he is now one of the very few ... I trust him totally for his music choices. He is really the best. With his help, I want to show that I can skate two totally different programs.”
Wilson said the feeling was mutual. “It was awesome to work with Brian a year ago. I was just thrilled when he asked me to choreograph his free program in 2010,” Wilson said. “I chose Beethoven’s ‘Ninth Symphony,’ a piece rarely used the way it was edited. It was a challenge for Brian to skate to such music but I was pleased with the feedback; the judges and audiences were very receptive.
“It is going to be even better this season with the adjustments we made in order to comply with the new regulations. This program suits him like a glove.”
The music selection for the short program might surprise many skating fans. “This year, because I knew Brian, it was even more fun to work with him because I was familiar with his style,” Wilson explained. “He sent me some musical options but I considered them kind of dated. I knew he would love to skate to techno music, but I wanted it to be my way. I wanted it to be cool, flashy, and if possible, never done or skated to before.
“I talked to my music guy, Hugo Chouinard, who loves techno. He sent me several pieces of music, but the one that clicked immediately was composed by the French electronic music duo Justice. Brian and I were both excited when we listened to Hugo’s compilation. I have passion for this short program; it is very dramatic.
“Brian is one of the most experienced skaters on the circuit and he loves to perform,” Wilson added. “He still has a future in figure skating and he wants to keep growing and evolving. Before we connected, he thought this sport was just all about jumps. Age is irrelevant now.”
Joubert, who turned 27 in September, credits Wilson for his new mind-set. “With David’s conviction, I have changed my attitude regarding skating for a year now.I need to go on in order to be even more professional,” Joubert said.
“Usually, I start my competitive season with the French Masters (which was held in Orléans, Oct. 6-7) but I believe I might need a warm-up event which would force me to get ready earlier than usual.”
Joubert competed at French Masters but an injury sidelined him from competing at Cup of China in early November. He is scheduled to compete at the French Grand Prix in mid-November.
Originally published in December 2011