Buttle's dreaming of gold

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

It's Olympic gold or bust for Jeffrey Buttle.

The two-time Canadian men's champion declared yesterday his eyes will be squarely focused on the top prize when the Turin Games figure skating competition commences next month.

"This whole season, I've been training with the thought that if I go there and skate clean with the quad, I can stand on top of the podium," Buttle said yesterday at a Skate Canada Olympic team media conference at the Marriott Hotel. "I'm going to go in with that as my goal.

"I don't want to shy away and say I'll be happy with fourth place because I know that if I do my best, I won't be. I want to be on the top of the podium and I know what I'm going to need to do that."

The 23-year-old from Smooth Rock Falls is considered Canada's best bet for a figure skating medal in Turin. He is the reigning world silver medalist, and finished second at the Grand Prix final last month in Tokyo.

Assuming he's healthy, three-time world champion Evgeni Plushenko will be considered the Turin favourite. Current world skate king Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland finished ahead of Buttle at both the 2005 Moscow worlds and the GP final.

No Canadian has ever won the men's figure skating gold at the Olympics, and the general sentiment is that Buttle is probably in line for a silver or bronze medal. Plushenko and Lambiel own more consistent quadruple jumps and Buttle hasn't landed one in competition since 2003.

All that being said, the Canadian champion insisted yesterday "I think it's important that I go into the Games wanting to win. If you don't go the Games wanting to win, you allow yourself to make errors.

"I just want to go in with the thought that if I'm confident in my training, I'm capable of (winning gold)."

He considers the Olympic event "wide open."

The men's competition at the Olympics runs Feb. 14 and 16.

Three-time Canadian men's champ Emanuel Sandhu of Richmond Hill, the silver medalist this year in Ottawa, and four-time national ice dance champions Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon of Montreal are also considered Turin medal hopefuls by Skate Canada.

Dubreuil and Lauzon were bronze-medal winners at the GP final, and produced the second-highest free dance score at the event.

"We are training right now to get on that podium," said Dubreuil, 31, of Montreal. "I think we're on the right track to achieve our goals."


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