Brian Joubert held a press conference this morning at the 2008 World Championships in Göteberg, Sweden on the eve of the men’s event. The reigning world champion spoke about his season, his illnesses and injuries and his hopes for the future.
Joubert: I just arrived on Tuesday and I had my first practice on that day. I am very confident and I am just waiting to be at the competition tomorrow.
Were you surprised to learn that you would not be able to practice on the main rink prior to the competition? Are you worried about that?
Joubert: No, I was a little bit surprised, because I thought I would have a practice before the short program, maybe on Friday morning, but I won’t. For me it is not a big problem. The ice is the same size on the practice rink as the main rink and I heard that the quality of the ice is very similar. So I am not worried about it because the size is the same at both rinks.
Do you feel yourself in 100% full shape even though you had problems during the season with your health?
Joubert: Yes. After Zagreb we made some changes in both routines and worked a lot with Jean-Christophe in our hometown of Poitiers and I am just ready to be here and ready to compete and I really want to retain my World title.
What are the small changes you have made in your routines?
Joubert: I have made some changes in the short program in the order of elements. In Zagreb I was doing the quadruple-triple combo, then a triple Lutz and then a triple Axel. Here I am going to do four triples, then a triple Axel, then triple Lutz, which means there have been changes in the transitions. For the long program I have changed the middle section and also the way I am doing the final step sequence.
In the short program I started with the triple loop, then the triple Axel. Here I will do the combination, then triple Axel, then triple Lutz.
What was the purpose of Kurt Browning coming to work with you in February in France?
Joubert: So when I saw him in June to do my new program I told him that it would be great to see him during the season. So that is why we did it after Europeans because Europeans was a bad competition for me and I really wanted to change some parts of my free program because it started to become boring for me and you know, it was great because like I said, with Kurt we don’t work, we play and after Europeans it was grea tto play with him and I think it was a great moment before Worlds to do that.
How is your health now and can you talk about what was wrong with you?
Joubert: My health is great. I feel very good and strong. So, in November I had a virus but I did not know what it was because it does not have a name. Just I know I was very tired, I could not skate in practice more than 20 minutes and that is why I could not do the French grand prix and I was late at the beginning of the season and that is why I was not ready for Europeans.
(Joubert also suffered from gastroenteritis at the beginning of January).
After the outcome of your short program here (in Göteberg) are you ready to change your free program and add in a second quad, which is different than the quadruple toe-loop.
Joubert: Since Europeans I worked my free program with three quads with two quad-toes and one quad-Salchow so I did it in competition in France. So, I am ready to do it, I know I can do it. I will see after the short program if I have to do one quad, two quads or three quads.
How do you see the competition at these Championships?
Joubert: I think it is going to be very difficult like every World Championship. There are I think three skaters who can win the World title – Stéphane, Daisuke and me. But there are a lot of other skaters who can win a medal and I think it is going to be very interesting. But after the short we will see.
And if I say Tomas Verner?
Joubert: Well, I don’t know. He is European champion and I hope for him he can win. But, I think it is between Daisuke, me and Stéphane.
At this World Championships the men are the last to skate. What do you think about that?
Joubert: In Malmö, for the European Championships in 2003 it was like this. I think it is a good idea. I think it is very important for the audience and television and a lot of people can watch the competition on Saturday. But it will be difficult because all of the other skaters will have finished and we will feel more nervous, but, it is okay.
According to you, what is more difficult – to win the first title or to retain the title?
Joubert: It is much easier to win the first time than the second time. It is very hard to keep the World title than it is to gain it for the first time.
In Canada you were handed the dreaded E. Any comment on how you have changed your technique so it won’t happen here?
Joubert: You know, at Europeans I did the triple flip and it was okay. We worked a lot on this but the problem is that I learned my triple flip like this. Last season I was World champion with this triple flip. So, I find a solution. I want to put this jump in my program. I will do just two triple Lutz (in my program here) and that’s all. But I am still working on this jump to have no deduction. Before, I was working on a quad flip. It was a goal for me to do a quad flip in a program but now with the deduction it is difficult for me. So, I am working a lot on it.
Among the favorites you are going to be last one to skate. We know you do not like this. How are you going to prepare for this?
Joubert: It is true I do not like too much to be in the last position because I get kind of nervous. But I am ready and I love to fight. I have been in that position in some competitions after Lambiel and Plushenko
How are you feeling about maturing with your illness, some bad results and having to think about yourself and coming back to the World Championships as relaxed as we are seeing you now?
Joubert: You know, I started to practice for this season in July and all the summer was difficult also. I had some problems with my back and then the virus. But you know last season was great, everything was perfect so I think that this season it is more difficult and for me it is not a big problem because I am learning. It is not because I am World champion that I know everything and this season was very interesting for me. I need this kind of season for the Olympic Games – to get ready for 2010 – and it is not because it is difficult but because I love to skate. But I love fighting and I will fight for this competition.
Last season you went to Skate Canada for the first time. Can you talk about your experience and will you be doing any Grand Prix events in North America next season?
Joubert: It is one of my best memories ever in my career, my Skate Canada appearance. I am very sincere about that. It brought me a lot of joy. It was the same kind of moment when I won Europeans or the World title and of course it is great to have this kind of support and I looking forward to Vancouver in 2010.
My goal is to win all of the Grand Prix events, so I hope to do the NHK Trophy and Trophée Eric Bompard next season and in two years, Cup of China and French trophy. I will try to Win Cup of China and NHK because that is my goal. But, maybe, I hope to do Skate Canada again, but I really want to win NHK Trophy and Cup of China.