Fourth to be reckoned with

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

A mere 0.38 is all that separates Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin from a pairs medal.

The Canadian champions had what could be their best skate of the season last night in the short program for the world figure skating championships at the Saddledome and sit fourth in the standings -- one spot behind Russians Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov.

"I don't know if we've been waiting for (a good skate) but we have been trying to do it," said Buntin, who with Marcoux finished 11th last month at the Turin Olympics, lower than the Canadian runners-up Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison in 10th.

Last night's skate certainly felt better.

"This sport's a roller-coaster," Buntin said. "To go from so low three weeks ago to where we are now ...."

Buntin and Marcoux earned 62.66 points, close to leaders Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang of China with 65.58. Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China are second at 64.98 and the Russians at 63.04. Dube and Davison are seventh at 58.81.

The free skate is set for tomorrow at 2 p.m. and Buntin wants to thoroughly enjoy the moment.

"It's our fourth season together," he said.

"We're in Canada and I think we have enough experience as far as our performances are concerned that we know what we need to do.

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

He and Marcoux will be bidding goodbye to their long program, set to music composed for them by Paul Kunigis.

"Every time we do it, we know nobody's ever skated to it before," said Buntin.

"This is the last time we're going to do it. So why not get out there, let's enjoy it. Let's feel the same energy we had in the studio making the music."

Dube and Davison are approaching the free skate in a similar fashion -- with nothing to lose.

They're riding the high from a solid Olympics and put together an even better short program, drawing a wave of aahs from the crowd with their throw triple loop.

"We felt the energy surge," said Davison. "I think we felt (a surge) ourselves but when the crowd gets into it, it's special for us. (Skating in Canada) is an excellent way to end a long season because (the fans) give you the extra energy to keep going."

"I think we try to feed off (pressure) and use it to our advantage."


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