The Time of Brian Joubert
By Alexandra Ilina
He stands on the ice. He does not feel the cold. Conversely, he feels the heat emanating from the ice as if he stood on the hot coals, covered with transparent glass.
He is fire himself. Inside him everything is burning. Memories over all the years, all competitions, all jumps, all victories, all disasters, all dreams and ambitions merged together and turned to his last seconds on the ice as a competitor.
His heart is pounding. Quickly. Very quickly. Blood floats through his veins like the water rushes in the river after the winter, when crust of ice gives the first crack.
Ice passion burns everything, captures him and pulls out to a fiery volcano. Today it was last fight for him. The End. It is the end of one page and the beginning of the other one.
May be at this moment, when the ice and flames were touched and merged into one, he felt freedom. Now he is free like a bird, which just was released from the cage, like a blind man who suddenly saw the light.
14.02.2014. It is the date, when the 2007 World Champion, a three-time (2004, 2007 & 2009) European champion and eight-time (2003–2008, 2011, 2012) French national champion Brian Joubert has done his last competition at Sochi Olympics.
He should get more points. But today it is no matter. No matter anymore. No matter on which place he finished his fourth Olympic Games. He is already a winner. His career proves to everybody, by numerous of international awards, who is him and what place he takes in the figure skating history. The love of the audience is not valued by medals and places, it means much more. “He is a great skater, I respect him,” said his eternal rival Evgeni Plushenko. For both athletes it was the fourth Olympics.
“I really hope when I finish my competitive career that my fans will continue to follow figure skating. And they will find, maybe, another favorite skater. He will be different from me, but I hope they will love him. And they will love figure skating!” Brian said once in an interview. Maybe so. Maybe not. But it is sure, that he already took place in the history of figure skating and in the hearts of many fans of figure skating.
Gladiator on the ice? James Bond? During his career he created a lot of images, lots of ideas were embodied in his programs, each of them is marked in the hearts of figure skating fans all over the world. We can call him also a surprise-man, who is not afraid of radical changes, even if they happen a few days before the European Championships, like it was in Budapest.
Someone might say – all this is evidence of his uncertainty or indeterminacy. But they are wrong! Those who knows him a little bit better – as “a man, who never gives up”, understand – it is a tireless searching, striving for excellence and perfection.
He has a great courage to change and to go ahead, not looking at anyone in a pursuit of his goal. It is usual for him. To have risk, to do quads, to fight, to compete… The last of the Mohicans from an old skating generation.
Joubert competed with the old judging system, he stood on the one podium with such great athletes as Alexei Yagudin, Evgeni Plushenko and Stephane Lambiel. He competed with Evan Lysacek and Jeffrey Buttle. Now he is fighting with Patrick Chan, Yuzuru Hanyu, Javier Fernandez and others. His rivals were coming and going, figure skating changed, but he remains true to the ice and himself, to his targets and goals.
“I showed that technically I can do good jumps. But I want to show to everybody more in my last season. I’ve got a new skating mood, a spirit for my last competing season.” And he showed it. A fire on ice with Amaluna soundrack. It was really the fire. Concerto de Aranjuez was a big last fight.
Now he is free to open a new page of his life.
With retiring of Brian the whole figure skating era will end. The time of Brian Joubert is over. He did not win Olympics but he is still a big champion, as well as a big fighter and great skater. The gladiator of ice. The French musketeer. And last but not least – a man with the most nice smile in figure skating.
Be happy and merci Brian!
Photo: Alexandra Ilina