Buttle to watch Skate Canada from sidelines

Ryan Pyette, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:36 PM ET

Sometime this week — after his Skate Canada ambassador duties, choreography work and general catching up with old, familiar faces — Jeffrey Buttle will take a moment or two to reflect.

Back in London again. A rocking John Labatt Centre. A subdued Emanuel Sandhu.

Memories from his men’s singles triumph five years ago at the BMO Canadian figure skating championships will flood back quick.

“My first win at nationals (in 2005),” said the 27-year-old Buttle, who arrives in London tomorrow. “How can I forget it? Definitely, it’s going to be great to be back. I’m really looking forward to the whole week, watching the skating and seeing this Canadian team take shape up for the Vancouver Olympics.”

It feels like a whirlwind.

Buttle, who first learned to skate in London, claimed his first national crown here. Then, he captured a bronze at the 2006 Olympics in Torino, won the 2008 world title, and just liked that, packed up his competitive tent.

Sure, he’s still skating professionally, splitting time on the ice between Toronto, his old Mariposa school in Barrie and, obviously, jaunting around the world on tour.

“I wouldn’t say I wanted more in life,” he said, “but I wanted to try something new. I took a long, close look at what I wanted and I was comfortable in making that decision to retire.”

No matter what he does or where he goes, he still finds himself spending a lot of time at the rink.

He’ll be in Vancouver to catch the Olympic skating next month.

“I have to skate for a sponsor out there so I figured I’ll just hang around for a while and crash what I can crash and see what happens,” he said with a laugh.

He’s content to let his successor — 19-year-old Patrick Chan — avenge his old rivalries.

When Buttle won the worlds, Frenchman Brian Joubert mocked him as a paper champ, saying the quad jump was undervalued by the new scoring system and that the Canadian was simply king of a revamped points structure and no more.

Buttle said the skaters have never reconciled or even addressed those sour grapes.

“Let’s just say I was very happy for Patrick when I was watching the worlds last year,” Buttle said, laughing.

Chan finished second at worlds, Joubert third, in that event.

Buttle may not have busted the quad like a lot of jolly jumpers. But he was able to rise to the occasion when the stakes were at their highest.

That’s something Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue have to negotiate next month. It’s something Chan, Joannie Rochette and Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison still have to learn.

“The advice, really, is just to use your support,” he said. “If you’re unsure or scared of something, talk to someone about it. You can say go out there, relax and skate but it’s easier said than done.

“Don’t keep it inside.”

He likes the confidence of Virtue and Moir heading into Canadians this week and beyond.

Scott Moir hasn’t been shy about referring to himself and Virtue as the best dance team in the world.

“You absolutely have to tell yourself you’re the best in the world if you want to be the best in the world,” Buttle said. “That’s where it starts. If you don’t think it, it’s not going to happen.”

Chan has endured a tough year to date. He tore his calf, rebounded from that and, this past week, parted ways with coach Don Laws.

“I think Canadians is going to be important for him, not that he goes out and wins it, but that he does well to set himself up for Vancouver and build that momentum,” Buttle said. “He didn’t have the start to the year he would’ve liked but I just love the way he’s handled himself along the way.

“And at the Olympics, it’s who comes up with the performance they need. It could be any of them and Patrick’s right there with all of them.

“It should be great to watch.”

And the Canadian team, in particular, is showing signs of becoming a future force.

“We have some skaters here who are capable of doing great things,” Buttle said, “and I really do see (the sport moving forward and growing in this country).

“The support has always been strong here but there have been some circumstances outside of the skaters’ control over the past number of years.

“This group has a chance to take it up another level.”

Buttle did his part. He set the stage.

And this week, he gets the chance to spend time where it all started and look back at an unforgettable five-year journey.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

2010 Canadian figure skating championships

Senior competition schedule

Jan. 14-17

At the John Labatt Centre

Thursday: Compulsory dance, 6 p.m.

Friday: Women’s short program, 9:55 a.m.; Pairs short, 12:55 p.m.; Original dance, 4:55 p.m.; Men’s short, 7:25 p.m.

Saturday: Pairs free skate, 11:30 a.m.; Women’s free, 3 p.m.; Free dance, 7 p.m.

Sunday: Men’s free, 4 p.m.

Tickets: All-event package, $125-150, plus tax. Online at www.johnlabattcentre.com, by phone at 1-866-455-2849 or in person at the JLC box office.

Tickets: Still good seats available. Saturday morning nearing a sell-out. Available online at www.johnlabattcentre.com, by phone at 1-866-455-2849 or in person at the John Labatt Centre box office.

Junior nationals

Jan. 11-14

At Western Fair Sports Centre’s Highbury Ford Arena

Today: Junior pair short, 9:15 a.m.; Novice men short, 11:05 p.m.; Novice pair short, 1:30 p.m.; Junior compulsory dance, 3:25 p.m.; Novice women short, 5:55 p.m.; Junior men short, 8:20 p.m.

Tomorrow: Novice free dance, 9 a.m.; Novice men free, 11:20 a.m.; Novice pair free, 2:05 p.m.; Junior dance original, 4:10 p.m.; Novice women free, 6:20 p.m.; Junior women short, 8:55 p.m.

Thursday: Junior dance free, 9:25 a.m.; Junior men free, 11:45 a.m.; Junior women free, 5 p.m.; Junior pair free, 8 p.m.


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