A Buttle ball!

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

LONDON, Ont. -- Jeffery Buttle was two years old when he started his figure skating career here. Yesterday, the former baby turtle at the Forest City Figure Skating Club, who moved away at the age of seven, became Canadian champion.

"This is incredible. This is awesome. I've been waiting for a skate like that at Canadians for way too long,'' said Buttle after dethroning three-time champion Emanuel Sandhu before a sellout crowd in his old home town.

'FELT SO GOOD'

"It felt so good that I want to make sure it happens over and over again. There's nothing like skating like that in front of a Canadian audience. And to do it in London, where I first learned to love the sport, makes it almost perfect.''

Like Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto, the pairs team which has somehow managed to continually come to Canadians and lay an egg despite solid international results, Buttle has previously been a bust at Canadians. Unlike Langlois & Archetto, who made even a bigger mess of it this year and didn't even make the world team, Buttle finally had a great skate.

While Buttle over-rotated the landing of a triple Lutz, which resulted in his not being able to do a double toe which was supposed to follow in the combination, if you credit him with the triple, then he had eight triple jumps for the free skate final. Sandhu was 0-for-2 with the quad and had six triples.

"I was thinking actually of Jo's performance yesterday,'' Buttle said of Joanne 'Rocket' Rochette's brilliant free skate final the night before.

"It was so inspiring. At the end of my program, I thought I'd done it too. I was really excited. I knew I was going to skate like that going into my first jump. Joanne said the same thing after she won. She felt like she was going to do it.''

He didn't say it, but beating Sandhu, a guy who has always put down Buttle for not having a quad, the way it went down, had to make it even better.

EMANUEL MELTDOWN

It's one thing to have the quad. But to pop it twice, to gutless wonder two different versions of the big jump to cost yourself a Canadian title, is something else again.

You could write this as another Emanuel meltdown. But Buttle deserves his moment in the spotlight. This was a story of a guy who nailed eight triple jumps in the skate of his life to win.

"It's the best I've ever done,'' said Buttle of his long program.

In the end, Buttle ended up with 262.23 points, with Sandhu second at 242.66. Shawn Sawyer, 19, of Edmundston, N.B., won the bronze, with veteran Edmonton skater Ben Ferriera securing the Olympic season on the national team by finishing fourth.

"I was one jump away from a victory and that's the frustrating part, knowing I didn't put out my best,'' said Sandhu.

Coach Joanne McLeod said she had no explanation for Sandhu popping both quads.

"If he'd done the quads, my feeling is that he would have won,'' she said. "But credit Jeff. He made the most of the new judging system. He's a skater who is meant for it.''

Buttle has an interesting way of phrasing his reaction to that suggestion.

"I'm not sure the system fits me so much as I fit the system they just hadn't developed yet. It's not like they developed the system for me.''


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