Two minutes before stepping on the ice for warmup, Christopher Mabee's nose started bleeding like a leaky faucet.
No matter -- the 19-year-old Tillsonburg native was bloody brilliant anyway.
Performing with a piece of gauze jammed up his right nostril, Mabee closed out the men's qualifying round of the Canadian figure skating championships with a personal best 118.56 points under the new judging system to finish second in Group B behind Edmonton's Ben Ferreira last night at the John Labatt Centre.
Mabee's total was fourth among all 36 skaters yesterday. He finished sixth at last year's nationals in Edmonton but appears poised to take a run at a national medal.
"It was one of my best skates of the season," he said. "Of course, the nosebleed was frustrating. I had it happen in my first practice but then it started two minutes before I had to go on the ice. It would be frustrating for any skater. We went to the medical room and I got this (plug) jammed up my nose.
"I think it's from the dryness of the air in the arena and the hotel. We tried wet cloths but it's uncontrollable."
Mabee, who stole the show with his high-flying jumps and charisma, said he drew immense pleasure from skating in front of a loud, hometown crowd. Tillsonburg is 45 minutes from London.
"I was listening to the crowd from the back and I wanted them to get excited," he said. "That's what the audience wants, to have their hearts swept away."
Asked to describe the quality of his Axels, a happy Mabee said, "Smokin'."
He didn't fare well at the recent Junior Grand Prix final in Helsinki, Finland, finishing eighth, but that result didn't seem to be following him here.
"I was fighting an injury then," Mabee said. "I feel good and this was a great way to go into the short program."
Watford skater Mathew King's competition is over after finishing an agonizing 13th in men's Group A qualifying in the afternoon. Only the top 12 from each group move on to Friday's short program.
King posted 73.02 points to finish behind Glenburnie, Ont., native Tyler Cochrane's 12th-place total of 78.79.
"Of all my skates this year, I'd say it was somewhere in the middle," the 22-year-old King said. "I got off to a good start but it was inconsistent. I got really tired near the end. It's no excuse but I have a cold. . . . You have to fight through those kind of things."
King knows all about fighting through the aches and pains on the ice.
Shortly before last year's nationals in Edmonton, he crashed his Pontiac Sunbird into a hydro pole on the way home from London.
"There's still a mark from the car on that pole," he said. "I was driving back from London after seeing a movie and I hit a patch of black ice."
Two days after the doctor's diagnosis, King was back on the ice and ended up competing in Edmonton where he finished 19th in senior men's.
"You don't want to miss an opportunity to skate if you're able, you never know what might happen," he said.