Canadian figure skater blushes over gold

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 11:34 AM ET

GOTEBORG, SWEDEN -- Jeffrey Buttle couldn't stop blushing yesterday.

"It's been just overwhelming," he said.

"Everyone keeps calling me 'World Champion'. I keep blushing. My name is Jeff."

He said he kept doing it over and over like he did when a capacity crowd of 9,751 fans were introduced to the final skater at the event-ending gala and it was him.

It all really hit home when the P.A. announcer said: "The new world champion, from Canada, Jeffrey Buttle!"

That was an exceptional feeling, one even better than winning a bronze at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games.

"I knew it was going to be crazy. That's definitely a feeling I'd never had before. I was just hoping I could skate after that," he said. Buttle's first day as world champion here yesterday was a dream.

MOST LIKABLE

Perhaps the most likable person on the Canadian team for the past five years said he didn't take his cellphone to the Scandinavium Arena for his free skate final the night before.

"I left it in my room. When I got back I had 40 messages. The first one was from my sister. They're all wonderful. I still haven't been able to call most of the people back."

Asked if one of them was from the prime minister, Buttle laughed.

"No. I'd feel terrible if the prime minister called and got my voice mail."

Is there a town anywhere in Ontario that won't be laying claim to Canada's new world figure skating champion?

"Smooth Rock Falls," began Buttle of where he was born. "Kapuskasing, London. Timmins, Sudbury, Barrie," continued the 25-year-old, who became the first Canadian to win gold at the event since Elvis Stojko 11 years ago.

"My dad worked for Ontario Hydro. We moved a lot. I've been all over. There's someone at every one of those places who offered me something."

He's especially looking forward to walking into the Mariposa training centre in Barrie, "where they have banners for all the medal winners internationally."

Buttle said being world champion was the last thing to hit home when he sat in Kiss 'n' Cry and his scores came up.

"I was so happy when I skated, I wasn't thinking world champion. I couldn't believe I laid it all down, all the pieces.

"It was such a great win. It was not a questionable win. I had a great skate. I beat the defending world champion who had a great skate."

One minute he spoke of that and the next he was being asked about Vancouver 2010 by three Canadian journalists yesterday.

"I'm ready for it," he said of the build up and attention he just guaranteed he'd receive on the road to Canada's homecountry Olympics.

While many may view his title here as all the stars and moons and planets being perfect and this world title being very difficult to duplicate four years from now, Buttle said that won't be his mindset at all.

"I got this without the quad," he said of the four-rotation jump Kurt Browning landed for the first time at Worlds 20 years ago, and the jump that won Stojko three world titles - one fewer than Browning and the last of which was in 1997.

"Think what I can do with the quad."

Buttle won the world title with some controversy created by silver-medal winner and defending world champion Brian Joubert of France, saying there's something wrong with the judging system that allows a skater to win gold without even trying one.

OTHER ELEMENTS

While many celebrated the idea that the Canadian's win was for all the other elements of skating instead of just the home-run jump, Buttle says he plans to have the quad by the time he gets to the Olympics.

"I didn't obsess with not having the quad, even when I was watching all these guys landing them at practice. I just told myself to stick to my program and do it and do it well.

"But I'm going to go home and definitely push the quad."

Meantime, Buttle heads home to prepare for the Stars On Ice Tour of Canada, which stops in Ottawa April 19, Toronto April 25, London April 27, Winnipeg May 1, Edmonton May 2 and Calgary May 3.

"That's going to be a real reward," he said of being able to celebrate his titles on the 12-city tour, which starts in Halifax and ends up in Vancouver and Victoria.

'And now, ladies and gentlemen, Canada's new world figure skating champion, Jeffrey Buttle!'

He may be blushing every night.


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