Magic rubs off on Buttle

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. -- Seems like Joannie Rochette might have left a bit of her magic dust on the John Labatt Centre ice. Jeffrey Buttle sure thought so.

One night after Rochette lit up the Canadian figure skating championships with a performance for the ages, Buttle savoured his own glorious moment.

The 22-year-old from Smooth Rock Falls upended Emanuel Sandhu of Richmond Hill to claim his first national senior men's crown, and it wasn't really close in the end.

Buttle just knew it was going to be his night.

"Incredible," said an elated Buttle after posting a personal-best total of 262.23 points -- almost 20 better than Sandhu's 242.66, a personal best by 12 points.

"I sort of knew I was going to skate like that. Going into my first jump, I felt into my knees and I just sort of smiled because I knew it."

He drew inspiration from Rochette, who told Buttle she felt the same way Friday night before she skated so incredibly.

"Going into her first jump, she just had the feeling she was going to do it," said Buttle with a grin. "I just had the same thing. I'm glad it rubbed off."

"I watched her (Friday night) ... for Joannie to put out a performance like that worthy of a medal at worlds was incredible. I was so inspired by that."

Buttle was pretty remarkable, too. Skating to haunting Inuit music, he opened with a triple flip-triple toe combination and was on his way. Eight triples in all, though there was a slight turn out of his triple lutz.

Even so, there was a standing ovation waiting for him at the end.

Up went 156.95 points on the board, another PB.

It left Sandhu with a mountain to climb. Once his difference-maker -- the quad-triple combination -- became just a double, it was too steep.

Canadian title No. 4 will have to wait for another night.

"I've got to remember I've got three championships under my belt and I feel really good about that," said a disappointed Sandhu, 24, who did land seven triples.

"I was one jump away from a victory."

Said coach Joanne McLeod: "Had he done the quad, my feeling is he probably would have won."

Buttle felt the final result vindicated his belief he could win a national title without a quad. But for a top-six finish at the world championships in Moscow, "I know it's a necessity."

"Here, I was able to get away with not having the quad. If I want to reach my goals at worlds, I'm definitely going to have to have the quad -- or skate better than that."

While Buttle's skate brought down the house, McLeod made sure Sandhu didn't know it.

"We used the sink (in the dressing room) and turned the water on, flushed toilets," she said. "I'm serious."

Hey, whatever works.

ANDREEV FINISHES SIXTH

Then again, this was a night in which the decibel level stayed high. Credit Ottawa's Fedor Andreev with getting the ball rolling, landing seven triple jumps in a free skate that moved him up to sixth place in the final standings.

It was some way to finish an injury-wrecked season. "I couldn't have done anymore," said Andreev, 22, of the Minto Skating Club. "That's exactly what I came here to do -- have a great week and get back into the swing of things.

"It's probably as well as I could have skated."

Oh, and there was a standing ovation, too. That seems like an annual event for Andreev.

There was more where that came from. Home-town boy Christopher Mabee laid down seven triples of his own and kept the joint rockin.' He finished fifth.

Later on, former Minto skater Shawn Sawyer knocked Edmonton's Ben Ferreira off the podium by pouring seven triples into an inspiring effort.

"Let's say I thought on a perfect night, (a medal) could have happened," he said. "I wasn't perfect, but it still did happen. It shows how hard I worked this year. I'm very happy."

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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