Sandhu no can do

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:40 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It just started and they\'re already up the Potomac without a paddle.

Out of flight, out of mind. If you\'re not in the top three of your group in the men\'s qualifying, if you\'re not one of the six in the final flight for the short program, you\'re out of sight and out of the fight at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Canada\'s Emanuel Sandhu and Jeffrey Buttle won\'t be skating late tonight in the final flight with Evgeni Plushenko of Russia, Michael Weiss and Timothy Goebel of the U.S., Takeshi Honda of Japan, Ryan Jahke of France and Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland.

A FIRST-TIME THING

Plushenko landed a quad-triple-triple combination for the first time in the history of the event while the two Canadians went quadless to finish fifth and sixth to the Vancouver 2001 world champion in men\'s qualifying Group A yesterday.

\"I\'m pleased to do the quad-triple-triple for the first time at Worlds and to receive a 6.0 in qualifying, the first time for that, too,\'\' said Plushenko, who won his group while Weiss won Group B.

Sandhu had two quads planned. A coaching call resulted in a quad-Salchow being pulled from the program after a wonky warm-up and the Vancouver-based skater fell on his normal quad attempt to start the program, which is worth 20 per cent of the final mark.

\"I thought it was slow,\'\' said coach Joanne McLeod, the former Edmonton Royal Glenora skater and coach of her temperamental pupil, who finished 29th at his first Worlds in 1998, 18th in 1999 and ninth in 2001, but withdrew from the Olympics due to injury and did not skate at last year\'s Worlds.

\"He concentrated really well,\'\' she added of the upside.

\"The warm-up was a little bit shaky so we pulled the quad Salchow.

\'\'It was a coaching call to keep him calm and get him through the stuff.\'\'

Sandhu also popped a triple Axel and had marks all over the map (4.5 to 5.5 technical) from nine of the 14 judges in the secret system which takes away all accountability and is more the storyline of these Worlds than the skaters themselves.

\"It was a good fight. I missed the quad toe, but I was emotionally ready,\'\' said Sandhu.

The former student at the National Ballet School, who appears like he\'s had some form of cosmetic surgery in the cheekbone area, had done a quad-triple-triple but Plushenko beat him to the draw and was paid off with 5.8s and 5.9s and even a 6.0 by the anonymous judges.

A SHOW-OFFY THING

\"Doing that was my last priority. It\'s a little show-offy thing,\'\' said Sandhu.

\"You\'ve got to do it in competition,\'\' said McLeod. \"Good for Plushenko.\'\'

Buttle, the Sudbury, Ont., skater who was eighth at his only worlds last year in Japan, was given technical marks ranging from 4.9 to 5.4 and artistic marks ranging from 5.1 to 5.7.

Buttle, who finished fourth to Sandhu\'s fifth at Four Continents in Beijing, under-rotated his quad attempt but said he was happy enough with his skate.

\"I was really comfortable. I wanted to bump it up technically from last year.

\'\'My goal is just to improve from last year.

\'\'I know I have improved and my confidence is up a lot more.

\"Obviously the placing will have an effect, but I\'m not going to let it bother me,\'\' he said.


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