Another battle for Buttle

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

CALGARY -- Jeffrey Buttle should change his name to Jeffrey Battle. He's always in one. Now he's in another one.

In the last two years Buttle always managed to get onto a podium. Just when you're convinced he's got himself in a pile of manure, he manages to find a pony under there.

Now he's going to have to find another one.

The rub this time is if he doesn't ... and are you ready for this ... Emanuel Sandhu is there to stand in for him.

That's right.

The guy who had another of his patented mental meltdowns and finished behind 14 other skaters in the qualifying competition to open the World Figure Skating Championships here Monday, has rocketed into the mix by finishing second in the short program here last night to Buttle's seventh.

All of a sudden Buttle sits fourth overall and Sandhu is fifth heading into tomorrow's free skate final. Sandhu has always been the one with top of the world talent. Buttle has few sensational skates like the one Sandhu managed despite falling on his triple Lutz.

Normally Sandhu messes up the short program. Here last night he had a personal best 78.415 points under the new scoring system.

Unlike Sandhu, Buttle doesn't have a quad. He hasn't had many stunning skates. But he's good, and he seems to specialize in being just good enough to emerge from the carnage, which usually surrounds him, to find the podium.

POSTER BOY FOR CARNAGE

Sandhu, on the other hand, has been the poster boy for carnage.

Buttle has, remarkably, managed to make it to every podium in every single event he's skated in the last two years.

It's amazing how it usually works with him.

His chances were hanging by a thread sitting sixth at the Torino 2006 Olympics,but the Smooth Rock Falls, Ont. native won bronze.

Buttle was fourth after the short program in Moscow at Worlds last year. He ended up wearing the silver medal.

"I'd like it not to be that way. I'd like to be first," said the Lee Barkell-coached skater. "I'm a lot better off than I was at the Olympics. But I'm disappointed.

"I had a small mental lapse on the Axel," he said of a wobble on the landing of the triple jump. "I don't know what happened. I was confident and relaxed. I let it get the best of me. I let it affect my next jump," said Buttle, who proceeded to fall on the triple Lutz.

"Embarrassingly enough, the Lutz is my favourite jump. I took it for granted," added Buttle. "I am angry. "I have no idea what happened on that jump. I guess I lost my focus. I thought I was going fine. I think I wasn't concentrating enough.

MUST LEARN FROM IT

"I have to come back from it and learn from it and give it my all in the long program. I have to redeem myself like I did in Italy. I have to go for everything and don't hold back. I have to have the same level of attack."

Buttle finished second in the Grand Prix Finals in Beijing and Tokyo after winning Grand Prix events in China, Paris and Tokyo. He's been second and third at the last two Skate Canada events and won the last two Canadian championships.

Defending world champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland leads with 117.64 points. Nobunari Oda of Japan sits second at 114.48 and Brian Joubert of France is third with 114.36.

Buttle sits at 107.78, Sandhu at 107.36, Johnny Weir of the U.S. at 106.91 and American teammate Evan Lysack at 105.25.

Sandhu unquestionably came up with a rare care skate.

After finishing a disastrous 13th at the Olympics, the Vancouver skater who has been ninth, eighth and seventh at his last three Worlds, gave it a seldom-seen gutsy go.

For Buttle it's situation normal.

For Sandhu ...

Who knows what we'll watch next?


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