Flush a lot ... Buttle has crowd cheering

BILL LANKHOF -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:20 AM ET

Was that flushing sound Emanuel Sandhu's career going down the toilet?

Sandhu, skating last in the men's competition on Saturday, said he had no idea how well Jeff Buttle had skated ahead of him.

Sandhu had his coach running around the dressing room trying to drown out any crowd noise.

"We turned on all the faucets and flushed all the toilets. Anything to make noise," Sandhu said. "I'm just one of those guys who doesn't want to know (what the competition is doing).

Sandhu ended up losing his national championship to Buttle but said it "was no big deal".

In other words, it's all water under the bridge.

DIAMONDS ARE ...

Shae-Lynn Bourne, Canada's diva of the ice dance, was all aglow this week.

It didn't have anything to do with ice dancers Chantal Lefebvre of Lasalle, Que., and Aresniy Markov of Moscow, who she now coaches. Lefebvre and Markov finished third in the senior ice dance yesterday.

"Yeah, it's true," she said, flashing a glistening diamond engagement ring. She and choreographer/coach Nikolai Morozov have been "an item" for some time. Now it's official, although Bourne says they haven't set an actual wedding date.

WAITING IN THE WINGS

Ice dancers Tessa Virtue of London and Scott Moir of Ilderton could benefit most from the planned retirement of Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon after the 2006 season.

The crowd-pleasing combo of Moir, 17, and Virtue, 15, wowed the hometown crowd with a stunning free skate that earned them fourth-place marks yesterday. Their free dance mark (95.67) was better than that of the third-place finishers, Lefebvre and Markov (93.01).

Virtue and Moir are used to performing three-minute programs at the junior level, but added an extra minute to their routine for the senior competition and didn't break a sweat.

"They have some things you can't teach," said longtime dance guru Igor Shpilband, who coaches the dancers. "A skate like that would put them on top of the podium at junior worlds."

The junior world championships will be held in Kitchener on Feb. 28-March 6. Consider Virtue and Moir the favourites in ice dance.

GOING TO MOSCOW

Here's the lineup of Canadians who qualified to compete at the world championships in Moscow March 14-20:

- Men: Buttle and Sandhu;

- Women: Joannie Rochette and Cynthia Phaneuf;

- Pairs: Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin, Utako Wakamatsu and Jean Sebastien Fecteau.

- Dance: Dubrueil and Lauzon, Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe.


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