French figure skater Joubert takes lead Tonight, Worlds - Men's Free Program 8:25PM EST 3/26, livestreaming at channelsirfing
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — France's Brian Joubert surged to the early lead after the men's short programme at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships.
Joubert, the 2007 World Champion, leads 2006 World bronze medallist Evan Lysacek and two-time Canadian champ Patrick Chan heading into Thursday's men's free skate.
"I had a good score with a big mistake at the beginning," Joubert said. "The rest of the programme was clean, especially my footwork."
Skating to the music of Rise by Safri Duo, the 24-year-old Joubert took a few spins and turns in order to settle into his routine and post a score of 84.40 in front of a crowd of about 4,000 at Staples Center arena.
He stumbled on an opening quadruple jump before putting a solid finish on his skate.
"I didn't take enough speed into my quad toe and that is why I made the mistake," Joubert said.
Lysacek is making a return to the worlds after missing the event last year because of an injury. He posted a 82.70 for a slight lead over reigning Four Continents titlist Chan who was left scratching his head after receiving a 82.55 for his short programme skate.
Joubert said he felt nervous going in but in a good way.
"I need to feel the pressure," Joubert said. "I am not a robot. I know I am ready for the (Worlds) because after my mistake I felt okay."
The 18-year-old Chan said he was not upset with his scores. His coaches have been telling him for years this would happen when he gets on a world stage.
"It was a reality check," Chan said. "At the Worlds you are expected to do a clean programme. I have always been told by my coaches that I am leaving points on the table.
"I am not here to criticize the judges. It was realistic."
Joubert and Chan are two of the favourites in Los Angeles and the Worlds is expected to be a preview of the battle for Olympic gold in Vancouver 11 months from now.
The Worlds is also a chance to tweak programmes and test competition nerves ahead of the Winter Games.
And that is exactly what it has been for Joubert and Chan, who became embroiled in a war of words in the days leading up to Wednesday's short programme.
It started with Chan calling Joubert a sore loser and a bad sport for the way the Frenchman criticized Chan's Canadian teammate Jeff Buttle after the 2008 Worlds.
Joubert, who lost the gold at the 2008 Worlds to Buttle, fired back that the Canadians are the only ones complaining about his comments and that a true champion takes risks.
Neither Chan nor the recently-retired Buttle perform the quad jump regularly in international competition.
"Lot's of Canadian people are disappointed about what I said after the World Championship," Joubert said Wednesday. "I still think what I said about the quad jump.
"Patrick is a dangerous skater for me. He can beat me, so we will fight on the ice."
Said Chan, "We aren't really here to fight off the ice with the journalists or take it beyond that.
"We moved on. He made a mistake ... I don't know if it was a mistake. It doesn't matter. There are no hard feelings."
Lysacek then walked off the post-competition interview stage shaking his head asking Chan and Joubert what was going on?
Lysacek did his talking the ice Wednesday. He lives and trains in Los Angeles so he was able to feed off the home crowd.
"I feel I am in good shape," Lysacek said. "Today was a continuation of the training I have been doing the last few weeks. I am just trying to stay calm.
"I was relieved to get the hard elements out of the way."