Skate America, the first Grand Prix of the Olympic season, starts with a controversy: the absence of the French skater Brian Joubert, one of the ten skaters in the men’s event, slated to compete this weekend in Detroit. Is the skater „psysiquement encore fragile” (as his coach, Véronique Guyon, described him) or is he being punished for his absence at Master’s de patinage in Orléans, as the newspaper „L’Équipe” suggests?
by Florentina Tone
In the article written for „L’Équipe”, the journalist Céline Nony is categorical: „Brian Joubert won’t participate at Skate America, the first Grand Prix, because he droped out Masters at the beginning of October”. One of the three candidates for bearing the national flag at the 2010 Olympics, Brian Joubert will miss his first official competition of the season; as the article states, the skater was sure that he would receive the plane tickets for Detroit at the beginning of this week. Instead, Joubert didn’t get the tickets yesterday – furthermore, the Nordic combined skier Jason Lamy-Chappuis was chosen as the country’s flag bearer.
Céline Nony explains: „Looking back, we can pretty well guess the reason of this decision, which could have been predicted ten days ago. On 4th and 5th of October, Orléans hosted the Masters, a traditional round-up of the National team – a competion that Joubert, inadequately prepared, dared to renounce at. From the evening of 5th October, Mr. Gailhaguet (n.b. – Didier Gailhaguet, the president of the French Figure Skating Federation) and Xavier Sendra, the national technical director of the federation, contemplated the idea of depriving the man with sixteen international medals of this first stage of the Grand Prix. A real punishment for the 29-year-old skater from Poitiers, who hoped to commence his last season in the very place where his career began, at the end of 2001”.
One thing is sure though: a chorus of disappointment followed the news. Joubert will be missed at Skate America – and an inquiry on the absence (and its causes) is absolutely necessary.