Buttle climbs up to bronze

He landed on his butt on an attempted quadruple jump, but Canadian figure skater Jeffrey Buttle wound up sitting pretty with an Olympic bronze medal.

Last night, Buttle, 23, went from sixth after the short program to third in a monumental free skate climb over carnage on the Palavela ice below.

Even Buttle, a former Forest City Skating Club member who started his career in London, was incredulous at getting bronze.

"I never thought I would have come back after the short program," he said.

"I just decided instead of skating for a medal, I was going to go out and skate for myself. I think it made the difference."

Russian Evgeni Plushenko got a little help from The Godfather to win gold.

Skating to music from Francis Ford Coppola's popular 1972 gangster film, Plushenko -- dressed in black with red around his throat -- persuaded the judges and the crowd to see things his way in the free skate.

It wasn't hard. Although he wasn't perfect -- notably popping a triple salchow -- the 23-year-old skated well enough to win, stepping up from his Olympic silver four years ago.

"I have something inside me. I like to work and I also like to compete," said Plushenko, who scored a personal best of 167.67 points in the free skate and had a combined scored of 258.75.

Reigning world champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland won the silver with 231.21 points. Buttle scored a personal best of 154.30 in the free skate and had a total of 227.59.

Buttle, who moved from London at age seven and grew up in Sudbury, fell on a quadruple toeloop and touched his hand down on a triple Axel, double toeloop combination.

"I just kept pushing through. When all is said and done, I'm really proud of myself."

Luckily, his opponents also struggled.

Johnny Weir of the U.S., who was second after the short program, wound up sixth after missing several planned jumps.

Weir complained about the transportation system, saying he wasn't at the arena on time and couldn't prepare properly.

"I never felt comfortable enough to give a great performance," he said.

Frenchman Brian Joubert, in fourth after the short, slipped to sixth with an uninspiring performance.

More than half of the men brought their quadruple jumps to the game last night, in an attempt to impress judges. Five of the 24 men landed them.

Plushenko even threw in jumps that weren't planned, such as his quad-triple-double toeloop.

"Nothing special today," he said. "I just did my job for what I need for a gold medal."

Emanuel Sandhu of Vancouver, who opened his short program with an impressive quad-triple toeloop on Tuesday, had a disastrous free skate and dropped to 13th with 190.24.

The three-time Canadian champ fell on a two jumps and popped on a couple more.

Sandhu even slipped below national team rookie Shawn Sawyer, an Edmundston, N.B. native who placed 12th with a total of 190.83.

"I did my best personal score and and I am very happy about it," Sawyer said.