Pairs movin' up in the world

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:38 AM ET

CALGARY -- The idea was that without so many Olympic medal winners here, Canadians would move up.

But in pairs?

From 11th to fourth?

That's what happened yesterday as Valerie Marcoux of Gatineau, Que. and Craig Buntin of Kelowna took advantage of the gold and bronze medalists not showing for the World Figure Skating Championships, which opened here yesterday.

Canada's other pairs team of Jessica Dube of Drummondville, Que., and Bryce Davison of Cambridge, Ont. - 10th at Torino 2006 - sit seventh going into tomorrow's pairs free skate final.

Meanwhile, Canada's only Olympic medal winner, Jeffrey Buttle, lies second to 18-year-old Nobunari Oda of Japan - who trains in the same Barrie, Ont. club as Buttle - in his section of qualifying.

Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, who won the gold medal last year in Moscow when Evgeny Plushenko of Russia was forced to withdraw before the long program due to injury, finished first in the other group.

Buttle won the silver in Moscow.

Plushenko won the gold at Torino, Lambiel the silver and Buttle the bronze.

Buttle scored 137.90 while Lambiel scored 160.90 to win his.

The Smooth Rock Falls, Ont. skater landed six triple jumps but fell on a triple Axel attempt and went down again on a triple Lutz try. He also doubled out of his quad.

"It was a bit of a tough start but it was better than my start last year," said Buttle of his silver-medal-winning Worlds in Moscow.

"For now I'll take that."

The men's short program goes today.

Meanwhile, the pairs were over the moon with what happened to them here yesterday.

"To go from so low three weeks ago to where we are right now ... wow!" said Buntin.

"We're going to stay calm and do what we do and let the standings fall where they many."

Davison said he thinks there's something to having home ice advantage - even though there were fewer than 5,000 fans in the stands.

"I think we feel the pressure and try to feed off it and use it to our advantage as much as we can."


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