Last stop ... Turin

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 2:42 PM ET

Ben Ferreira wants to end his career on a high note and on the right foot.

The 26-year-old Edmonton native is hoping to cap off a 13-year figure-skating career with a trip to the Turin Olympics.

Having never been to the Olympics, Ferreira - who now trains in Barrie, Ont.- has an eye on one of the three spots available at the Canadian national figure skating championships Jan. 9-14 in Ottawa.

If successful, Ferreria expects to skate into the sunset as an amateur, following the world championships in March.

"After being second at the Canadians in Edmonton, my home town, then going to Worlds, I could have called it quits then," said Ferreira. "But this was part of my four-year plan to move to Barrie and try to make it to the Olympics. Now that there are three Olympic spots for Canadian men, this is an opportunity to do that."

It's been a long road for Ferreira.

The Jasper Place grad began figure skating at the age of 12.

He took part in his first senior men's national event in 1997, finishing seventh.

After skating out of the Royal Glenora Club for most of his career, Ferreira decided to move to Ontario and skate with Dough Leigh of the Mariposa club in Barrie.

WORKING WITH LEIGH

It was with Leigh, that Ferreira achieved his best result, placing second at the Canadian championships in Edmonton in 2004. That year he got an opportunity to take part in his third world championships, where he finished 13th.

This year, leading up to Canadians, Ferreira placed fourth at the Cup of China in Beijing and sixth at the NHK Trophy Grand Prix event in Osaka, Japan.

"We started with a new long program that we went to briefly, but then decided to go back to my original program," said Ferreira. "We want to build on my fourth place in China and my sixth at the NHK. I'm really more comfortable with the program's track record. It's got a nice feel to it and it's more my style."

Going back to the program, which earned him the second-place finish in Edmonton two years ago, has Ferreria confident, heading into this year's national event.

IN GREAT SHAPE

He's also as healthy as he's ever been.

"He's probably in the best shape he's ever been in his life," said Leigh. "He's really over his feet. He's really worked hard on his second mark, bringing up the footwork skills, the spin level. He's showing his maturity right now as a seasoned skater."

Having an Olympic berth to shoot for also has Ferreira as focused as he's ever been.

The third spot is his for the taking. The top two spots are taken by Emanuel Sandhu and Jeffrey Buttle.

"The key for him is not to try and go beat anyone else. That's not the mission at all," said Leigh. "He has to go do what he can do and get that mark. You don't know what anybody else is going to do, so he just has to worry about himself. But he's a veteran. That's one of his advantages."

Ferreira's experience at the Canadian championships is what makes him one of the dark horses leading up to the event. Sandhu and Buttle are favoured to take the top two spots in Ottawa. But there isn't a lot of room for error.

But Ferreria's goal is to put together two solid performances at Canadians and hope it's good enough to take him to Turin.

From there he'll enjoy his Olympic experience, come back for the World Championships in Calgary, call it a career and move on to pursue other opportunities.

"I'm very happy with what I've been able to accomplish, especially considered I started skating so late," Ferreria said. "I look back and I'm very satisfied with it. I put into to it what I got out of it."


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