Mabee aims to salvage some pride

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

KITCHENER -- He had a good cry, an hour-long chat with his psychologist and a full day to digest his worst skating performance in six years.

Next on the emotional checklist for Christopher Mabee? Salvage his pride and reveal the depth of his competitive spirit at the world junior figure skating championships.

The 19-year-old Tillsonburg native's nightmare qualifying session Wednesday left him 14th in his group, which meant he slid by on a blade's edge into today's men's short program at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.

His 27th-place point total was a sledge-hammer to the head for a supposed world junior medal contender and the fifth-best senior men's skater in Canada.

"The last time I skated that bad was six years ago and it was here in this rink," said Mabee, his spirits lifted after a back-to-basics practice session yesterday. "It was just a summer skating event -- it was worse than this one. I've got nothing against (the Aud). I don't know what happened. But I'm looking at this as a brand new competition. The points don't carry over from qualifying, so I have a chance to go out there in the short and turn this around."

Mabee's out-of-character qualifier -- he landed his opening triple Salchow but struggled on his next seven jumps -- didn't cost him points but he was penalized in the draw. He'll skate first in the opening group today, which is the least desirable spot in the competition.

Though it's not supposed to make a difference in the new points system, the No. 1 slot can still be a detriment. Even if a skater pulls off the performance of a lifetime, some judges will leave room in the artistic marks for later competitors.

"Maybe there'll be some of that, but I think you'll end up where you're supposed to end up," Mabee said. "The big thing for me is to put this behind me. It's not about a medal. If I don't get one, it's not a big deal. It's about skating consistently at a high level."

That's where his four-year association with Toronto-based sports psychologist Sandra Starc comes in handy. Mabee called her after his skate and the two tried to break down the root of his failure.

"It's been a big help to talk to her because I didn't realize how mentally weak I was," Mabee said. "That may sound bad, but you think you have it all together and something like this happens. I don't think she tells you how to think, but until (Wednesday), I had been a lot more consistent with her."

With success at the senior level and his impending graduation to the top level of international skating, Mabee said he may have looked past this event to bigger things.

"Maybe when I got here, I thought a little bit like I was beyond this," he said. "But the top 10 skaters who finish here would do well at any level of competition -- senior or junior."


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