A Grand Prix Final, French National, European, and World Champion, Brian Joubert is one of the most popular figure skaters in the world. Skating since he was a kid, Joubert was destined to be great and has achieved many firsts throughout his career. His junior career isn’t as colorful as other figure skaters, but this is because he immediately advanced to the senior level.
From his speed to his jumps, Joubert made a solid reputation despite the challenges encountered. He was most popular for his abdominal strength, which many people credit to be his best asset. He is also a strong jumper, which is what made him deliver show-stopping performances throughout his competitive career.
In this article, we’ll look at his personal and professional career, including his numerous achievements.
Joubert was born on September 20, 1984, in Poitiers, a commune in Vienne, France. At 11 months, he suffered from a serious health problem, which led to the removal of one kidney.
In France, Joubert has a reputation as a heartthrob. He was in the limelight after his major wins, but one thing that gave him a semi-celebrity status was his short-lived relationship with Lætitia Bléger, who was Miss France 2004. As any celebrity would, he was also involved in controversies during their relationship. He sued her for 40,000 euros. The lawsuit stemmed from claims that she insinuated that Joubert was homosexual and that they have only been in a relationship to hide his true sexual orientation. The court eventually ordered her and two magazines to pay 17,000 euros in damages.
After his relationship with Bléger, Joubert also dated Valentina Marchei, an Italian figure skater. It was brief and ended in 2009.
Outside of figure skating, Joubert is also known as a pet lover. This was highlighted in several interviews, including those that featured his home. In one TV appearance, he mentioned that he has two dogs. What’s more interesting is that he also took care of at least six snakes as pets. He also had a penchant for car and motorcycle racing.
Making a Name for Himself
Like many professional figure skaters, Joubert had an early start in the sport. He was enrolled by his mom in figure skating classes, and this eventually honed his professional career until he became one of the best figure skaters globally.
Getting into the World of Figure Skating
At four years old, Joubert was already skating. At that time, he was doing it with his two sisters – Sarah and Alexandra. He was initially interested in learning hockey, but he fell in love with the jumps he made while figure skating.
During his junior years, Joubert took part in several competitions. Internationally, his first major appearance was at the 2000 World Junior Championships in Germany where he finished 15th. A year after, he was in fourth place in both of his Grand Prix participations. He did not qualify for the 2001 Junior Worlds. He entered the 2001 Top Jump competition and finished second. In the 2000 to 2001 season, he already qualified for the senior level, giving him only a brief experience as a junior figure skater.
As soon as he turned Senior, Joubert proved that he is a man to watch out for. From France to the rest of the world, he joined several competitions and won many of them. Admittedly, however, it wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. He also had his share of disappointing performances and career-threatening injuries.
Shining in His Senior Year
When he entered his senior level, Joubert did not disappoint. He had a strong start. Year after year, he was building up anticipation and made a solid reputation, not just in France but even in the international scene.
2001 to 2002
It was in the 2001 Skate America when Joubert had his senior debut. The latter is the first out of the six events of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating, an event organized by the International Skating Union. This is an invitational competition, and Joubert finished 9th. This is pretty impressive considering that it was his first competition as a senior.
Meanwhile, for the French Nationals, he finished with a bronze, which made him eligible for the 2002 European Championships. He then appeared at the Salt Lake City Games, where he made history as the youngest French athlete to complete.
2002 to 2003
In his second season as a senior skater, Joubert has shown significant improvements. Joubert was not supposed to compete in the 2002 Skate America, but because of the withdrawal of another player, he ended up joining. It was all worth it as he won the event. This was also his first international title. He also won second at the 2002 Trophy Lalique, making him eligible to join the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. He finished second. In the same season, he ended up sixth at the 2003 Worlds and second at the 2003 Europeans.
It was also in 2003 when Joubert parted ways with his coach for 15 years, Veronique Guyon. She wanted to spend more time with her family, so she resigned. He then took Laurent Depouilly as a coach and Alexei Yagudin as an advisor. However, Yagudin did not like the choreographer of Joubert at that time, so the two also had to part ways briefly after they started working.
2003 to 2004
This season once again saw him winning a medal at the Grand Prix. He also generated buzz after being the first French athlete in four decades to have won the 2004 European Championships. Since 1996, he was also the first non-Russian figure skater to have won the competition. He also debuted at the World Championships where he finished with a silver.
2004 to 2005
The start of the year was favorable for Joubert when he had two medals at the Grand Prix. He also competed at the 2005 European Championships where he took home the silver. However, from second place in the previous year, he dropped to sixth place at the World Championships.
2005 to 2006
In the 2005 to 2006 season, he won two more medals at the Grand Prix, similar to his performance in the prior season. However, he failed to secure a spot in the finals. He also joined the 2006 Winter Olympics. His participation was hyped, with many sports commentators predicting that he would take home a medal. He caved and fell during his free program. He finished sixth. Luckily, in the 2006 World Championship, he did better and finished second.
Another highlight of this season was when he worked with Lucinda Ruh, a Swiss national and figure skating gold medalist. While Joubert was often criticized for lack of variety in his performances, working with Ruh changed everything, and he started showing better diversity in his techniques.
2006 to 2007
It was a great season for Joubert as he won in all of the competitions he participated in from 2006 to 2007. He joined the Trophee Eric Bompard, Cup of Russia, Grand Prix Final, and European Championships. One of the highlights of his career was at the Cup of Russia when he showed off three quadruple jumps in one program, a feat that has been accomplished by only a select few in the history of figure skating.
However, he suffered from an injury in 2007. During his training, while doing a triple lutz, the blade of his skating shoe slashed his right foot. He injured his tendons and had to go through a couple of stitches. He was back skating only a few days after. While he was still recovering from the injury, he pulled off an amazing performance at the 2007 World Championships in Tokyo, which was also where he had his first World title. He won overall and also registered a personal best score.
2007 to 2008
The year started with his appearance at the Skate Canada where he won. He was supposed to have his second Grand Prix appearance at the Trophee Eric Bompard, but he was forced to back out after suffering from the flu. In 2008, he appeared at the European Championships and won bronze. In March, he competed at the World Championships and he went home with a silver medal. These were all proof that despite his shortcomings and injuries in the previous years, he has the right to be touted as the best quadruple jumper in the industry.
2008 to 2009
He again made a series of wins at the Grand Prix, including a fourth-place at the Trophee Eric Bompard. He also had his victory at the Cup of Russia. While he qualified for the Final, he had a back injury, which resulted in backing out. The year also saw him participating in the World Team trophy in the event’s debut. He ended up second in the men’s event.
2009 to 2010
Starting off the Grand Prix, he had a disappointing fourth-place win at the Trophee Eric Bompard. However, this was followed by his first win at the NHK Trophy, which is the fourth out of the six events of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating. With his wins at these events, he qualified for a spot at the Final. He withdrew from the event after suffering from a serious foot injury, which warranted surgery after significant damage to the tendon and ligament. He also failed to compete at the French Championships as he was still healing. He made news again when he appeared at the 2010 European Championships. Here, he proved that he was better than ever when he posted a personal best score. The event ended with Joubert bagging the bronze medal.
He also appeared in the 2010 Winter Olympics. He was an early favorite, but he demonstrated an underwhelming performance. He ended up in 16th place, far from what many have expected. After the event, he expressed his disappointment over how the Olympic games are not for him as he always seemed to have performed badly compared to the other competitions where he previously appeared.
2010 to 2011
In another year of the Grand Prix, he competed at the Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard. He had gastroenteritis in the same year, but he was recovered in time for his appearance at the French National Championships. Here, he had his seventh national title.
During the season, Joubert had another surgery. This time, it was his left knee. He still participated at the 2011 Worlds. He received injections as a part of pain management. He suffered a couple of bad jumps. Since his participation in 2005, this year marked the first time that he did not have a podium finish. Despite this, Joubert revealed that he was happy with how he did, especially in the free skate category. In another post-season interview, he also noted that he was suffering from pain and it compromised his performance, adding that his burnout has most probably contributed to his dismal performance that year.
2011 to 2012
To kick off the season, he had training in Sweden and Canada. The first event of the season for Joubert was supposed to be the Nebelhorn Trophy, an annual competition held in Germany. However, he had to withdraw. For the Grand Prix in the same season, he was assigned to the Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard. He suffered from a back injury, leaving him with no option but to back out from both competitions.
While he was still recovering from his back injury, Joubert appeared at the 2012 French National Championship. Despite his medical condition at that time, he was able to bag his eighth national title. He also competed at the 2012 European Figure Skating Championship. He had a subpar performance, which landed him the eighth spot. This was also the first time he was not able to secure a podium finish at the said event. He also participated in the International Challenge Cup. He finished first both in free skating and overall. In the 2012 Worlds, Joubert was able to break another personal best record and he finished fourth. His last event of the season was his participation at the World Team Trophy. He was part of the France team and won third in the men’s event.
2012 to 2013
For the Grand Prix, his assignments were the Cup of China and Trophee Eric Bompard. He placed seventh in the short program, but because of fever and abdominal pain, he had to withdraw. He competed at the Trophee de Bompard. He wasn’t feeling well during the competition, resulting in an underwhelming performance, but he still managed to snag a fourth place.
In the 2013 French National Championships, he had flu, prompting him to backout one day before the competition. In the 2013 Europeans, he placed third at the short program but only fourth overall. Meanwhile, at the 2013 Challenge Cup, he successfully defended his title. He also participated at the 2013 World Championships and he placed ninth overall.
2013 to 2014
This year, his Grand Prix assignments were Skate America and Rostelecom Cup. He was also supposed to compete at the Masters de Patinage, but he eventually withdrew noting that he was short in terms of preparations. He was removed from the participants of Skate America. According to sports insiders, this was a result of his initial withdrawal from the Masters. The French Ice Skating Federation, however, asserted that the withdrawal was a result of an illness. He also withdrew from the Rostelecom Cup, and this time, he cited his back injury as the reason for his withdrawal. His first competition in that year was at the NRW Trophy, an international figure ice skating competition in Germany. He won second place. He also competed at the French Nationals where he ended with a silver medal. Joubert also competed in the 2014 European Champions and he finished eighth. He also participated at the 2014 Winter Olympics. This is the fourth time he made an appearance at the Olympic Games. Unfortunately, same as with his previous appearances, he was not able to have a podium finish. He finished in 13th place. Following the Olympics, he announced his retirement from competing in figure skating events. Instead, he revealed his plans to continue coaching instead.
Like other popular and skilled figure skaters, Joubert pursued a career as a professional figure skating coach. In many interviews, he revealed that he is no longer interested in skating, and his focus is now on coaching. He still does a couple of shows in France, but he channels most of his energy mentoring young players.
Since he started his career in skating, he has always dreamed of having a skating school. This became true in 2018 when he established a skating club in Poitiers, France, which was also his birthplace. He has more than 100 kids in the club. Joubert is coaching young skaters of all levels, including two-year-olds and Junior Grand Prix competitors.
According to Joubert, he found the job of a coach more difficult compared to being a skater, he noted that as a skater, the stress is only concentrated during the program. As a coach, on the other hand, the stress goes on. Plus, you are responsible for improving not just yourself but dozens of those who are under your tutelage. He also mentioned that the difficulty with coaching lies in the fact that you have students with different skills, needs, and motivations. There is no cookie-cutter approach. You need to treat each case differently, making the work time-consuming.
To date, his students are all from France. Although, Joubert mentioned that he eventually dreams of putting up a bigger school to help more aspiring skaters. He is taking things one at a time, slowly but surely.
Beyond Figure Skating
While the life and career of Joubert has undeniably been centered on figure skating, he also made a name in other fields.
Stint with Dancing with the Stars
In 2014, Joubert was seen as one of the participants of Danse Avec Les Stars, the French version of the popular television show Dancing with the Stars. Her professional partner was Katrina Patchett, and the pair finished in third place.
Aside from this show, he also made several appearances in different TV shows, but none rivals the popularity of Danse Avec Les Stars.
Recipient of Numerous Awards
To cement his reputation as a sportsman, Joubert was also a recipient of several prestigious awards. Unsurprisingly, many of these recognitions were in relation to the skills he showed in figure skating. In 2003, he received the François Lafon Prize (Prize for Young Hope). He was also a recipient of the Prize of the City of Paris 2007, which was awarded by the French Academy of Sport. More so, the French Senate trophy for Sports was also given to Joubert in 2007.
A Trusted Endorser
Joubert also had several endorsements, including LPG Systems, Eric Bompard Company, and Rossignol. He even had a partnership with one ski resort in the French Alps. His endorsement power was realized not only by businesses but even in the political scene. He has once endorsed a socialist mayoral candidate in his hometown in France. He also had his stint as the spokesperson of the French Olympic Committee.
Giving Back Through Charity
As a way of giving back, Joubert has partnered with several charitable organizations. He has financially supported an association helping young ones who have Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects different parts of the body. He has also actively taken part in many local activities in his home town.
Undoubtedly, Joubert is hard to rival. His colorful figure skating career earned him six World medals and ten European Medals, including three golds. The biggest upset of his career was his failure to secure an Olympic medal, despite having four appearances. He has also suffered several injuries, which prompted him to cancel participation in some of the world’s most prestigious competitions. Even with all the setbacks, Joubert is a league of his own – an inspiration to young figure skaters, not just in France but in the rest of the world as well.