Raymonde Joubert: "This is my job - to be a mom"

May 25, 2014
By Oxana Shkrebtienko
Photos © LMDJ

She is one of the most famous "figure skating moms," always near her son, but not in the shadow of his popularity, accompanying and supporting him in all situations.
It was she who brought a 4 year old boy to the rink, never having imagined how radically it would change their lives. Does she regret that decision now? How is her personal life going, hidden from the eyes of her son's fans? Taking devoted care of her son, did she forget the other children?
On the eve of Mother's Day, we met with Raymonde Joubert to talk about her public and personal life and her role in Brian's successful sports career.

What does it mean for you to be a mother of a champion?

During the last 20 years I've been with Brian on the ice rink. I follow him to the competitions. For me that's normal because I am his mother. Sometimes, when Brian is not happy, it's very difficult for me. When he is happy, I'm happy too and vice versa.

What do you think, is it possible for Brian to continue competing? At least one more year?

No, for me it isn't possible, and for him it's not possible either. I told him, "If you want, you can continue in pairs, but not in singles. You are 29 years old and you have to stop now." He did a good job at the Olympic Games in Sochi. His short program was wonderful, free program was also great. He is a very good skater, but he is not young as 10 years ago. No, for me isn't possible to follow Brian another year, but it doesn't matter what I think, it is he who has to take this decision.

Do you take care of his costumes?

Yes. Sometimes we discuss the color, the design. But mostly it's a choreographer who decides what kind of costumes he has to wear. I'm not always happy about his costumes. But I need to say "yes". For example, I didn't like his costume for a new short program, because it was too dark, in my opinion. The music is so beautiful, so jolly and full of energy! And the first costume didn't match the music. It should be some light color, not dark. The second one matched better for this short program.

And what about the costume for Brian's free program? It was not a new one. Was it your idea to use this black and red costume?

Yes, it was my advice. When he decided to change his free program, I couldn't sleep one night and I had been thinking about the costume for this program. And suddenly I realized that he has the costume for this music! I spoke with Brian and he said, "Ok, I'll try it". And it was comfortable for him to jump, to perform the program. So, he kept this costume for his free program in Budapest and Sochi.

I'd like to ask you about the menu of the champion. What do you cook for him? Wherever he is, he always misses mom's kitchen!

Brian likes good food, and so do I. But he looks at me and he understands that he doesn't want to gain weight. So, every day I cook good vegetables with meat, or fish, or eggs for him. Sometimes I bake a cake or dessert. For example, I do it for holidays or for a family dinner, but not every day. He is a "gourmet", but he must take care of his weight. I'm a little bit afraid that after his retirement he will gain weight easily. Without skating, competitions, practices every day, he won't burn as many calories. So, as he loves delicious food, it could happen. I think he needs to take care with his diet. Because he wants to participate in shows, he must be in good shape.

As Brian's manager, do you help him to make a schedule of his galas and his social activities?

I'm not an official manager, but I help him in these aspects; for example, answering his e-mails, making telephone calls, contacting people about shows, and making appointments regarding TV and radio programs.

Is it difficult for you to be a public person and also keep your privacy?

I understand that Brian is a public person. But sometimes I have to stop or to limit it. I'm surprised, people know all these things about Brian - how he eats, how he sleeps, where he goes, what he speaks. Everything is public. The same with me! People discuss the color of my shoes, my dress, my haircut, if I am happy or not. Sometimes I feel like it is too much. But I understand it, because Brian is so popular. And I try to keep our life private as well, and to find a right balance.

There is a kind of press, called "yellow press", that is very interested in such information. How do you manage your relationships with the press?

I say to Brian, "You have to be careful when you talk to journalists. There are the things you can discuss and there are things that are better to avoid. You have to take care with your reputation. Sometimes journalists alter your words." People don't hear what was said by Brian, but they read what is written by the press. And his words can be interpreted right or wrong. Unfortunately, sometimes they are interpreted wrong. We prefer to deal with the journalists and with the newspapers we trust.

How will you plan your own life now, when Brian's sport career is finished? Will you stay his manager?

I will continue to help him. He has a lot of business propositions: for TV, for shows. And, in my opinion, he is too young to manage everything himself, he can make mistakes. So I'll continue to manage it for Brian.

During the 12 years of Brian's elite career you've accompanied him, shared all his great and sad moments. If you had known all these before, would you still have brought Brian into figure skating?

Yes! I don't regret anything. Brian is a very good skater, he made a great career. I am happy because I helped him to make this career.

So, you are ready to repeat everything, each step from the beginning till the end?

Maybe, but there is one thing - three years ago I asked Brian to stop, but he wanted to continue until Sochi. I regretted this decision, but I did not insist upon it. Probably, after Vancouver it would have been better to stop skating as a single and try pair skating. He was young enough and he could try. But finally, Brian was so happy to continue that I had nothing but to say except: "Yes, I am with you!"

Do you plan to write a book? It would be a very interesting book!

I think about it. Maybe I'll write it with the same journalist who helped Brian to write his books. I have this plan. Hopefully it would be useful for the mothers of young skaters, to see how to raise a future champion.

Do you have somebody to help with your house, animals and garden? You have a big house, but you dedicate a lot of time to Brian. How do you manage it?

We are a family. Of course, when I am in my house with Brian, I do everything myself and I don't have a helper. When I'm away from home, with Brian, it's my daughter who takes care of the animals, but only of the animals. The house and the whole household, I keep up entirely by myself. I wake up at 6 o'clock and normally I go to bed at 11or 12. I have a lot of work to do! Also I have a job in a school with little children, from 8:30 to 14 every day. Afterwards I work in my house. Every day I clean, wash and iron. I like everything to be very clean. You can see, for example, that Brian's clothes are clean, without any spots, always smelling good. I don't like dirty people. By the way, Brian too! When he gets married - ohh... poor his wife! "My mom did it, so you have to do it!" Because I do all this work for Brian, besides being his manager and working with the Federation, sometimes I feel very tired.

Where do you find the energy, the motivation for all this work?

Over the last 20 years I've been helping Brian and I continue to do it. It's good for me because my mind is always occupied. I am 64 years old and it helps me a lot to keep myself in good mental shape. Sometimes, when I'm too tired, I think, "poor mom!" But it happens very seldom, so I manage it quite ok. In such situations I think: "Tomorrow will be a new day, and it will be better."

You have also other children and grandchildren. Do you find time for each of them, not only for Brian?

I have 2 daughters. When Brian was 12 years old, my elder daughter got married and left the house. My second daughter moved in with a boy. I stayed with my husband and my son, and I had a lot of time for Brian. But yet, I take a lot of care about my family - daughters and grandchildren, Hinatea and Clovis. Every day I bring them to school, and I cook lunch for Hinatea. Maybe Brian takes a lot of my time, but I have enough time for my daughters too. I like when each of them is happy; I do my best for all of them. This is my job - to be a mom, it's different, but we are a happy family!

And the last question, are you a happy woman?

I think yes, I am a happy woman, but not all of the time. I would say, I'm not a happy woman, I am a happy mom.

Happy Mother's day, dear Raymonde!

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