Former world champion Brian Joubert of France will be the main attraction at the Trophee Bompard, the first of six Grand Prix events that starts Thursday.

Following Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen's withdrawal in the women's field, Joubert will be the big star when he skates in front of his home fans as serious preparations begin for next year's Vancouver Olympics.

"My goal is to go to Vancouver for the gold medal," Joubert said. "I get up every morning to be Olympic champion. Everything is fine at the moment, so there is no reason not to do so."

Joubert, who in 2007 became the first Frenchman to win the world title since Alain Calmat 42 years go, finished sixth at the 2006 Turin Olympics after being among the favorites.

"In 2006, I wanted the gold medal but I was lacking experience and maturity," Joubert said. "I've started to work differently. These last two years, it wasn't fun. Now, I have fun and I will seize the opportunity because I want this (Olympic) medal."

A five-time world medalist known for his big jumps, Joubert is likely to be challenged in Paris by Nobunari Oda. The Japanese skater is in top form, winning last year's NHK Trophy, after being banned for three months by his national federation in 2007 for drunk driving.

Ryan Bradley and two-time world junior champion Adam Rippon will skate for the United States.

The 24-year-old Cohen withdrew from the first Grand Prix event of the season because of tendinitis in her right calf after consulting with an orthopedic surgeon.

She hasn't competed since the 2006 world championships after the Turin Games, but says she is confident she will be ready for Skate America from Nov. 12-15 in Lake Placid, New York.

With Cohen sitting out, world champion Kim Yu-na of South Korea will try to get her season off to a fast start. When last seen in competition, Kim was blowing away the field at the world championships in Los Angeles in March.

Her chief rival, Mao Asada of Japan, the 2008 world champ, also will skate in Paris.

Kim will perform to a medley of James Bond themes in the short program, and to George Gershwin's "Piano Concerto in F Major" in the free skate.

"I was concerned about the medley because it's unusual music for figure skating programs," she said. "But I've practiced a lot and prepared the program, so I can't wait to show it."

Caroline Zhang and Alexe Gillis will represent the United States.

Also this weekend, world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany are favorites to retain their pairs title. Two-time U.S. champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin will compete, as will Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, who are making their senior international debut.

France's Nathalie Pechelat and Fabian Bourzat, Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and Britain's Sinead and John Kerr are the top ice dance couples. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2009 U.S. silver medalists in dance, will be joined by Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, and the brother-sister team of Madison and Keiffer Hubbell.