Buttle and Chan show that they belong

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 7:18 AM ET

GOTEBORG, Sweden -- The hope was to have the future arrive in time for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, not here yesterday.

The future is now? The future is wow?

It was unreasonable to expect Jeffrey Buttle to get much better. And it was beyond ridiculous to figure Patrick Chan would fit in like he belonged with the big boys the first time he stepped on the ice with them at his first World Figure Skating Championships.

Did Chan coming here as new Canadian champion make Buttle better? And was what we watched with Chan proof positive that he's going to be The Man, the next Canadian figure skating icon?

Buttle, the three-time national champion from Smooth Rock Falls, Ont. went where he's never been before here yesterday as he finished first in the short program.

Chan, the Ottawa-born, Toronto-trained 17-year-old sensation who entered the Canadian consciousness two months ago when he won the Canadian title in Vancouver, sits seventh going into today's free skate final despite over-rotating his triple Lutz.

Kurt Browning was 15th in his first Worlds, Elvis Stojko was ninth at his first Worlds.

"I was wondering how they did," said Chan.

Chan seemed more than pleased that Buttle skated the lights out in the short program to be awarded 82.10 points to sit ahead of American Johnny Weir (80.79) and Daisuke Takahashi of Japan (80.40).

Buttle has had a good short program before. In fact, he was second after the short last year and ended up sixth, the exact same spot in which he finished the year before that.

"I felt so comfortable and confident out there," Buttle said. "I felt I wouldn't make a mistake. I felt more confident than I've ever been. Last year I skated a good short but to be honest with you, I wasn't training that well. This is different. And to be sitting first, that's definitely a first for me."

There's no first like your first Worlds, however.

"It was pretty nerve-wracking," said Chan. "I'm just so glad to have the short program behind me."

Does he feel like he belongs with the big boys?

"I'd have to say no," he said. "I'm seventh despite missing the Lutz. That was a junior mistake. If I belonged with those guys, I would have landed it. My goal is to belong with them."

He could by the end of the day today.


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