Mabee buzzing

TERRY JONES, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

HALIFAX -- It went from maybe Mabee to Mabee, baby!

Jeffrey Buttle won his third straight Canadian figure skating championship here last night but for the first time there was somebody new standing beside him to receive the silver.

Christopher Mabee from Tilsonberg, Ont., stole the headlines in the men's event for a second straight night as he finished second.

For the first time since Emanuel Sandhu made his debut as a senior skater at Canadians in 1998, he's heading out of here without either a gold or a silver. He's taking back bronze.

First at Canadians in 2001, 2003 and 2004 and second the other five trips to Nationals, Sandhu said it stings.

"It hurts a little bit," he said. "I came here to win my title back.

"I thought I competed like a champion today, but I didn't compete like a champion yesterday," he said of a disastrous short program in which the judges held him up.

In finishing third, Sandhu still makes the Canadian team to the World Figure Skating Championships in Halifax.

Buttle had it won before either Sandhu or Mabee skated, although he said he didn't.

"I had an inkling, but I knew what (Mabee) could do," he said.

"I'm really happy for him. He's been capable of that for quite a while now. And we're really good friends."

Mabee, who skated last, said he wasn't sure where the judges were going to put him when he was done.

"Apparently, I did enough.

"Now I'm going to take it and run with it.

"I'm completely thrilled."

Buttle received a standing ovation from the 4,883 fans and was more than happy with a Canadian record 232.83 score under the new points system. Mabee ended up with 209.31 and Sandhu with 207.49.

Buttle, who won the Olympic bronze medal in Torino last year and won silver at the 2005 Worlds, is still in search of the quad which is keeping him from ever going into an international event as a favourite, regardless of whether disaster strikes the rest of the field or not.

There was no quad planned for his free skate and he doubled out of a triple Axel. But he still skated clean and landed seven triple jumps.

"I'm definitely happy with the way it went," said the native of Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., who was competing in his first event of the year due to injury.

Mabee, a 21-year-old, was without a quad and didn't get his triple Axel done but landed five other triple jumps. He's gone from ninth to sixth to fifth to fourth to second at Canadians in the last five years.

Sandhu, 13th at the Olympics and fifth at the Calgary Worlds last year, did much better looking like a bright yellow banana in the long program than he did looking like a flourescent lime popsicle in the short.

He landed his quad and six singles, touching down on a triple Axel and popping a triple flip.

Two new stars were born to open the new Olympic quadrennial as 16-year-old Patrick Chan of Toronto and 18-year-old Joey Russell wowed the crowd with excellent performances and ended up finishing fifth and sixth respectively.

Shawn Sawyer, a 21-year-old from New Brunswick, finished fourth.


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