Similar showdown shaping up

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:04 AM ET

This is the home of the great showdown between Brian Orser and Brian Boitano.

Boitano, the American, and Orser, the Canadian, battled through the late 1980s, with Boitano winning two world titles and Orser one.

Then they hit the Saddledome in Calgary for the 1988 Winter Olympics.

And Boitano stole Orser's chance to claim Olympic glory on Canadian soil.

Jeff Buttle, a 23-year-old from Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., has a chance this week to win Canada's first international title since Elvis Stojko won the 1997 worlds in Lausanne, Switzerland.

A Canadian man hasn't won on Canadian soil since Kurt Browning did it in Halifax in 1990.

"The greatest help in terms of energy is going to be the energy of the (Canadian) audience," said Buttle, the Olympic bronze medallist and silver medallist at last year's worlds.

"Not so much the winning on home soil, although that would be amazing."

Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel, who finished 3.62 points ahead of Buttle at the Turin Olympics last month, may have a say in the matter, considering he's the defending world champion.

American Evan Lysacek, who was fourth at Olympics and third at last year's worlds, is also considered among the top dogs.

He's still battling a respiratory infection he contracted in Turin but is getting better each day.

"He's skating very, very well," said his coach Frank Carroll. "As far as the jumping and spinning, he seems fine."

He had a shaky landing on a quadruple attempt in practice yesterday but Carroll didn't seem concerned.

"The first one in warmup was beautiful but the one in the program was like a four-point landing -- buttocks, hands and feet," said Carroll, who estimates his skater lost about 7-lb. since he became sick.

"It will be the first time he does (the quad), so it's the thing he probably thinks about the most. But I think he'll be fine.

"Being an athlete is about overcoming adversity. He said to me 'my legs are a little tired.' I said 'everybody who does this sport is tired.

"You don't run through and jump and do quads and triples and not have tired legs.' It's part of the job description."

Men's qualifying kicks off the championships today at the Saddledome (9:15 a.m.).


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