The 2011 French Nationals, which took place in Tours, a city located 150 miles west of Paris, provided Brian Joubert and ice dancers Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat the opportunity to regain their respective crowns. All three sat out nationals last year due to injuries.
It was the perfect occasion for Joubert to redeem himself after a disappointing Grand Prix season where he placed fourth in China and withdrew from the French competition after a less-than-convincing short program that had him in fifth.
“In Tours, I wanted to prove to the younger generation that my time is not over yet,” Joubert said. “At 26, I still wanted to show that I have the potential to win major titles.”
Joubert over-rotated his opening quad and struggled with the landing of a triple Lutz in the short. “I stayed on my feet and did not let it go,” the three-time European champion said. “Competing in France gives me extra pressure. I have always hated it. When you have the image of the favorite, you have to deal with it.”
He struggled with the quad in the warm up for the long. “As I skated last, I had time to think of a new strategy with my coach Véronique Guyon,” Joubert said. “I told her I was not confident about the quad and we agreed it would be wise not to do it. My goal was to skate clean.”
Joubert earned the best component scores of the evening and his seventh national crown. “Believe me, this title has a special taste and the youngsters will have to take it from me,” he said.
Silver medalist Florent Amodio pleased the audience with a display of flair and talent in his free skating routine to music from Michael Jackson and the Black Eyed Peas. “I was a warrior on the ice,” he said with a laugh. “I knew it would be tough to catch Brian but I tried. As the defending champion, I did not want to lose my title. Perhaps I overestimated myself and I was also tired.” Amodio had competed at the Grand Prix Final a week earlier.
Alban Préaubert placed third and joined Joubert and Amodio at Europeans. “Seriously speaking, I am proud of our team and there is a great atmosphere between us,” Joubert said.
Péchalat and Bourzat easily won the ice dance competition ahead of Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones and Zoé Blanc and Pierre-Loup Bouquet. “Even though we were tired because of all the traveling we had done, there was no question about this event,” Péchalat said. “We do not have many opportunities to skate in front of our home fans and nationals is one of them.”
“It would have been nice to get more than 100 points in the free dance,” Bourzat added in reference to score of 99.56 they received.
Adeline Canac and Yannick Bonheur won the pairs event ahead of Mélodie Chataigner and Medhi Bouzzine and Anne-Laure Letscher and Bruno Massot.
In the ladies event, Yrétha Silété claimed the title despite the death of her grandfather a few days earlier. A strong short gave her the victory despite ranking fourth in the long. A junior skater, Lénaelle Gilleron-Gorry, was second and Maé-Bérénice Meité third. Candice Didier placed sixth.
Meité achieved the best results during the season and was selected for Europeans. Silété will go to Junior Worlds.
Originally published in April 2011