Brian Joubert: It’s much easier to skate than to be a coach
Interview with Brian Joubert about his figure skating school and being a coach.
by Alexandra Verezemskaya and Alena Shukalo for Moscow figure skating magazine #1 (53) 2019
Brian, tell us about your school in Poitiers. How is coaching work going?
– Now I have about 100 students of different ages and levels and five coaches in my school. Some work with young children, others with older ones. Every day, my second coach, Cornelia Pacier, who coached me when I was a teenager, comes to practice. We have a good team.
How many of your students participate in international competitions?
– I think about 15.
Do you travel with everyone?
– No, I need to be with Adam Siao Him Fa. If someone goes to international competitions, and Adam stays to train in Poitiers, then I need to be with him in Poitiers. He is my main student, and the French Federation of figure skating doesn’t want me to leave him training alone.
Talking about man’s single skating, in your opinion, why did the more courteous style replaced the masculine brutal style that you, Elvis Stojko, Aleksei Yagudin, Evgeni Plushenko showed?
– I like it when a man can create an image of a strong hero on ice. I myself enjoyed skating in such a style. However, I think that before it was easier to skate in this style than now, because now athletes have to include a huge number of steps and transitions into the program, do them with music in order to get good PCS. I think this is a reason for such a change of style.
That is, the rules affected the change of style?
– Yes. Everybody does the same thing – the same steps, the same spins. With the old judging system, we could insert some creative steps into the programs, show the character of the hero whose image we wanted to show. Maybe the next generation will be different – the current one is fixing on getting as many points as possible. But what they do is awesome. They perform more quadruple jumps than we could. Look, their bodies also have changed – they all are so slim!
In your days, men’s single skating was the vanguard of complexity in figure skating. Today, this vanguard becomes women’s skating. What do you think about this as an athlete and as a coach of Loren Lecavalier?
– Russian girls impressed me with their quads. Especially quad lutzes that look so easy! But they are still very young, so I think when their body changes, it will be harder for them. But in any case, it is very difficult for us to compete with Russian and Japanese girls. I think that in France we don’t have enough time on the ice, and we don’t have enough perseverance. The French don’t like to get tired, we don’t like to work hard. To win, we must change our thinking, become similar to the Russians and the Japanese. Loren, for example, must motivate herself every day. I think that a large team works in Russia and its level is simply amazing. They have a very high competition, so who doesn’t meet this level, very quickly finishes. In France, everything is different. If you work in a normal, comfortable for you mode, staying at the same level, then everything is ok, you will remain where you are.
In your opinion, what should Loren focus on to be competitive in women’s single skating?
– First, she should work more on the triple lutz – triple toe loop combination, and also she should show triple Axel. When she does a double, it is clear that she has a reserve for a triple. But it will take time. She has good feminine skating, so she just have to work.
During the Lorin’s performance you were very nervous, clutching your head, squeezing gloves. Are you always so nervous when your students skates?
– Yes. Being a coach is very difficult, because you don’t control what is happening on the ice. On each element, the coach is afraid, because he can do nothing, he can only watch. I was very worried about Loren because I known her for a long time, I know that it was very important for her to perform well at these competitions. Therefore, I jumped at each element, strained my muscles.
Is it easier to skate yourself?
– Oh, yes! When you skate, you know how you feel, maybe you’re not quite ready, but inside you know that you just have to fight, that’s all.
What do you feel when you hear music from your old programs?
– I like to hear the music I used, I get nostalgic memories and pleasant thoughts. Each of my programs I loved and skated with pleasure, so when I hear music, it reminds me of the programs. My students choose the music for their programs themselves. But if they brought some terrible music, then I will discourage them. I help them, as well as the choreographer, who works with us, gives them advice.
Speaking of quads, the latest innovation in the judging system “+ 5 / -5”, what do you think about this? Won’t it lead to a situation when everyone will stop doing quadruple jumps for the sake of a clean skate?
– Yes, I also think that this was done in order to give the opportunity to compete for those athletes who cannot perform such number of quads.
Is it good or bad?
– I think it is good, because if you make a very good triple, you will get a “+5 ″, and your sum will be much higher than for a quadruple with a mistake. If you make a good quad, you will also get “+5” from the judges. But I still do not see that the judges willingly give the skaters “+5”.