A roller-coaster kind of week for Mabee

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:15 AM ET

KITCHENER -- Usually, athletes declare they want to go to Disneyland after finishing in first place. Tillsonburg's Christopher Mabee finished 10th in the men's competition yesterday and may have felt like he had spent a week at a theme park in the world junior figure skating championships. "If I use one (phrase) to describe this competition, it would be a roller coaster," said Mabee. "It was up-and-down all week. Definitely, it was a learning experience."

The 19-year-old performed his long program to Jean Sibelius's Finlandia with much more vigour than he did in Wednesday's disastrous qualifying round.

He still struggled with several of his triple jumps, but it was nowhere near as excruciating as his midweek meltdown that had him calling his sports psychologist for an emergency chat, and had Mariposa School of Skating boss Doug Leigh zipping to Kitchener to see what was happening with one of his top pupils.

Mabee picked up 98.24 points for his long program, almost four short of his personal best, and ended up with a total score of 153.02. If he skated to his ability and duplicated his performance in London at the nationals in January, he could have jumped into the top half-dozen.

He finished fifth at last year's junior worlds.

"At first, I was mad at myself (after yesterday's skate)," he said. "It was very par, very average. But at least I tried a majority of the elements." He singled and doubled a long of his planned triples in qualifying.

"For me, this week was about showing my mental strength in the short program and coming back, and I think I did that."

His plan is to go to the senior level this year, although he learned this week he needs a lot of fine-tuning to get where he wants to be in the next five years.

Mabee will now return to Barrie and his job selling jeans at a local clothing store.

Compatriot Patrick Chan, a 14-year-old from Toronto skating in his first big international meet, finished in seventh spot after a solid free skate.

Canada's deep tradition of quality men's skaters hasn't translated into much podium success at the world juniors. The last medal was a silver by Marc Ferland in 1984 at Sapporo, Japan.

Canada has only won two men's golds in the International Skating Union event -- Daniel Beland in 1977 and Dennis Coi in 1978, both in Megeve, France.

But Chan, if he continues to show improvement under 89-year-old coach Osborn Colson, could be a medal hopeful in a couple of years.

Japan's talented Nobunari Oda claimed the men's title with a tremendous skate and broke down in the kiss-and-cry area after learning his marks (a 196.42 total score). Yannick Ponsero of France ended up second, almost 11 points behind Oda (185.45).

Russia's Sergei Dobrin (179.02) was third.


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