Alban Preaubert: "I skate for my own pleasure, not for the results"


By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © Rita Szoboszlai

He had two clean programs in Helsinki at the Europeans, but he finished only fifth. After the final pose of his long program he shouted for joy, but he quickly came back to the real, cruel world after seeing his score. Anyway, Alban Preaubert is satisfied with his own performance and although he doesn’t understand why he got such a low score he says, he couldn’t have done better. 

Are you satisfied with your performances in Helsinki?

Yes I am, and I’m very proud of myself. It wasn’t easy - there was a lot of pressure. I knew I could get a medal. I had one of the top scores in the European field, so I expected many things from this competition. My goal was to skate very well, and in this way I have nothing to regret, because that’s what I did. I skated very clean in the short program. I skated clean in the free program. I did the quad, seven triples, I couldn’t do much more. So I’m very happy about my performance, but I’m very frustrated because of the result. I thought this would be enough for a medal, but it wasn’t. 

What do you think might have been the problem with the judges? It isn’t the only competition when it seemed your score was too low.

I don’t know, I don’t understand. My components used to be quite low compared with my opponents’, but it was fair back then, because I used to be a very good, consistent jumper, but not a very artistic skater. However, I worked a lot on this aspect of my skating and I skate better now, I have better edges, better posture, everybody told me that – but anyway, my components are even lower than before, so I’m quite surprised about that. I think with such low components it’s impossible to medal, even though I skated my best. I don’t understand this but I don’t regret anything because I did the best I can. 

When you go on to the ice, do you want to entertain the audience or are you concentrating on the victory? What are your goals?

I want to have pleasure, to have fun. If I have fun, the audience can see it and they have fun with me. I think this is the most important. Fortunately I skate for my own pleasure, not for the results. It’s much better like this, because if it was the opposite, then I would be very-very disappointed today, because I think I was able to medal, but anyway I did my best, so I’m proud of myself and I have no regrets. It was a good competition here in Helsinki.  

At first we remembered you by your funny programs, such as Busy Bee, now you are also presenting some more serious programs. Which style do you feel most comfortable with?

The best for me is humor. I like to play, to joke in my programs. But I think it is also very important to show something else. I want to show the audience and the judges that I can skate to every kind of music. I try to do something different, maybe something more polished, more classical. Maybe my program this year wasn’t too classical either, but I think it’s good to show many ways of skating. Of course I like humor, so maybe later I will go back to humorous programs. 

You are French, but this year you skated to Russian music “Kalinka”. Why did you choose it?

It’s a tribute to my former coach, Elena Issatchenko. I began skating with her - she taught me the joy of skating. Unfortunately she passed away two years ago. She always spoke about this music and she thought I could skate well to this music. I decided to give her a tribute by skating to it. Unfortunately I couldn’t do it when she was still alive, but I’m sure she is proud of me today. This music helps me a lot, almost every time I skate to it in an international competition, it is a very good performance, so, I’m sure it’s thanks to her. 

So hopefully she will help you in the forthcoming competitions, too.

Unfortunately I’m not sure if I’ll go to Worlds, because France has only two spots. Brian will go for sure, and the federation has to decide between me and Yannick, who was fourth here. Maybe we will have a test, I hope so, but this is not sure. [The French federation in the end decided to send Brian Joubert and Yannick Ponsero to the Worlds, according to their results at the Europeans.] Anyway, I will continue practicing as I’m going to the Universiad. I hope to win a medal at this competition. And why not win the title? It would be great. And if Yannick goes to Worlds I really hope he will skate well and we will have three spots next year. 

What do you think why is the men’s skating in France so strong?

We have a really good team and it’s mainly thanks to Brian, because he is our leader, he is very-very strong. I have the chance to train with him during the summer and he helps me to improve. We know that he is a leader in the world and we know that to be very good at the world rankings, we have to be at his level. He sets an example for us, he has a fighting spirit and a very good competition spirit, so we try to learn a lot from him. I think that’s why we have such a strong team with Yannick, Florent Amodio, the winner of Junior Grand Prix Final. Also Contesti was part of our team some years ago. This is a really good team, we can improve together and we push each other to better performances. 

You have beaten Brian two times in this season, at French Masters and TEB. What does winning over him mean to you?

It was good for me of course, but the important thing wasn’t to beat Brian but to skate clean. If I can win against Brian, it means I can win against almost every competitor in the world, so it was very good for me to know that. It gave me some confidence. I know I can be a strong competitor. Anyway I also know that if he is surpassing, then he is better than me and anyone in the world and I hope he will be surpassing also at the Worlds. 

Could you describe a competition day of yours - what are you doing until you get on the ice?

I wake up. I just have a breakfast and take the shuttle to the practice. After the practice I come back to the hotel. I eat and I sleep for one hour, but not much more, because if I sleep more then I’m too sleepy for the rest of the day. Even if I’m very tired, I’m careful not to sleep longer, so I put on the alarm. Then I just watch a movie, talk with my friends from the French team to have fun and to relax. Of course I’m very stressed because it’s an important competition and everyone has big expectations, but I try to forget that and just to enjoy the competition. It’s an honour to be here. Many skaters would love to be here. It’s a chance for us to compete, so I just think about how lucky I am to be here. It helps me to forget the pressure and to be much more relaxed. Then I go to the rink and warm up again, one hour before the competition. We often try to laugh with Brian about the pressure. We are both stressed but we try to make jokes about it. We see in the dressing room that many guys are also stressed but we try to forget it. 

When you are on the ice and you land the first jump flawlessly, does it mean that everything will go on great from that moment or do you still have to fight for each element?

I still have to concentrate, but this year it really worked: each time I landed the quad, I landed everything. So I was very happy to land the quad again, but I had to be careful for the rest of the program. I know every element is difficult, every jump, every spin, every step, everything counts a lot. So even if I land the quad I have to know it wasn’t all and I have to be focused during the whole program. That’s what I managed to do here and I’m very happy about that. 

What is your favourite element?

I’m very proud of the quad, because not many skaters can land it in a competition, and this year I landed it in every international competition. I’m very happy about it, especially because it wasn’t my best jump at the practice during October and November. It was very difficult for me that time, but anyway I landed it at TEB and Cup of Russia. I also landed it here but it was easier for me at the practice, so now I was more confident about this jump. But I think my best jump is the loop, I like it very much, and I hope to try the quad loop in a competition one time.

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