Soup du jour: Joubert's Lutz(?) remains a mystery

Pfeifer has wardrobe malfunction; Reynolds get a trim; Takahashi, Tran talk spirals

Brian Joubert tried, and failed, to shed any light on whether he did a Lutz of a flip.
Brian Joubert tried, and failed, to shed any light on whether he did a Lutz of a flip. (Getty Images)


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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to
(03/31/2012) - Let's be diplomatic. Tomatoes are usually what you throw at poor artists or bad referees. Yet, this is a serious report, so there won't be any tomato soup in this column. Just a few vegetables here and there, if you will, and maybe a few "leaks," among other ingredients.

Liptz or flutz?

There was much wondering going on after Brian Joubert's short program Friday afternoon. Had he landed a triple Lutz or a triple flip? His planned program content had announced a Lutz, but most of us had seen a flip. Then the technical panel gave its official evaluation: It was a Lutz.

Joubert then gave his own answer.

"The triple Lutz is my beast," Joubert admitted. "When I approach it in my program and I see I do not have enough speed for it, then I decide to switch to a flip instead. I really decide at the last second. This time I went for the flip, as I did not want to hamper my program, which had been excellent."

If one of you has the answer, please let the world know!

Pants up and hats down

During his short program Friday, Viktor Pfeifer, the 2012 Austrian champion, experienced one of those mishaps that can mar a season: One of the straps that attaches his pants to his skates broke. He did what Joubert had done at the European championships six weeks ago: He took the leg of his pants up to his knee for the remainder of his program. When the time came for his final bow, he lifted his second leg the same way, and then lowered his (white) socks. The crowd loved it and gave him a warm round of applause. (Pfeifer is good looking, too.) The judges did, too: Pfeifer beat his personal best (although, without question, there is absolutely no link between the pants story and this).


Just above the kiss and cry zone, there is a group of (should I mention it?) Canadian fans. They have taken all the seats in several rows. In the first row, their leader is dressed (of course) in red and white, and he holds a huge flag, which he moves across the air as soon as a Canadian skater goes on or off the ice. Too bad for the skating fans behind: Could that be a new way to restrict photo taking and leave the field to only professional photographers?

Fashion week in Nice

Suspenders are trendy this year: Both Javier Fernandez and Jeremy Abbott wore the accessory during their short program. Abbott played with his during his program; Fernandez did not, however.

Let's see if the free program confirms the trend.

Fashion week in Nice, part deux

Believe it or not, Kevin Reynolds, "Mr. Quad" in Canada, has cut his hair (somewhat).

"Yes!" he exclaimed. "The world championships is a really special occasion, so I cut it. But I'll let it grow again afterward. I prefer to wear it longer."

At least he can see in every direction now.

Twenty-first century global skating

Besides the regular flags that are flying up in the arena after each competitor, a new and trendier way to catch attention seems to be emerging. The trick is to display the flag you want on your iPad, and then rise and shake that device over your head. (Or is it a new quality test for iPads?) At least three spectators above my seat have adopted this habit. They go from the Japanese flag to the American, Canadian or Russian flag in just a click, according to the nationality of the skater or team on the ice. IPads have no borders. And at least this way, flags are completely formatted.

Love Spiral

Mervin Tran, the newly crowned world pairs bronze medalist who represents Japan but is from Canada, stated this morning that death spirals were his favorite pairs element.

"We do backward inside and outside, and forward inside," said Narumi Takahashi, Tran's partner.

"As for forward outside, we're thinking of it." Tran added.

When they learned that the creators of these spirals (except the backward outside) were none other than 1964 and 1968 Olympic gold medalists and skating legends Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov, they remembered immediately that they had met them.

"Oh, yes! The ones who skated in Lake Placid!" Takahashi said.

When told that the forward outside spiral had been called by its creators "the Love Spiral," she added, "Oh! That's so much nicer!"

Want a picture? Give me a spot!

The greatest challenge for professional photographers in Nice is ... to get an official spot. For, of course, there are more accredited photographers than official spots. When you arrive in the press room in the morning, you find a full line of suitcases in the middle, from the chairperson's desk to outside of the room! No one is there -- neither the chairperson nor any photographer -- but those quietly lined-up suitcases.

Photographers came in early and left their luggage to take position in the line, knowing that spots are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The press room is reminiscent of the lines in front of the opera in Paris before the Internet days. They started at 3:00 a.m. in the morning, with those hoping to be among the first ones in line when the doors would open some seven hours later.

Maybe the press photographers should invent an Internet reservation system for themselves?

Packed house for men and ladies

Most skaters here have praised the supportive atmosphere they got from the audience.

Good news for Jeremy [Abbott], Adam Rippon, Alissa Czisny, Ashley Wagner and their colleagues from the men's and ladies categories: They will skate their free program in a sold-out arena Saturday. If the crowd's enthusiasm is proportional to its size, then they should feel supported even more!