Jeffrey Buttle still part of the team

Reigning Olympic bronze medalist lends his insight to the Canadian national team

Jeffrey Buttle is staying actively engaged with the Canadian national team.
Jeffrey Buttle is staying actively engaged with the Canadian national team. (Melanie Hoyt)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(09/29/2009) - Although he decided last autumn not to try for another shot at Olympic glory, 2008 world men's champion, three-time Canadian champion and reigning Olympic bronze medalist Jeffrey Buttle has stayed actively engaged with the Canadian national team. He recently attended the national team training camp in Vancouver, where he answered questions from any of the skaters who wanted his insight into Olympic preparation.

"Everyone asks, 'Are you disappointed you won't be competing in Vancouver?' Absolutely not. I'm so happy with the decision I made, but I'm also Canadian, so I feel an immense amount of pride and excitement that the Olympics are going to be in Canada," Buttle says.

"When I was in Vancouver, I could feel a bit of the energy and was able to see the Olympic village," he adds. "It was just so exciting."

During the training camp he spoke one-on-one with several of the skaters, sharing his thoughts on the Olympic experience.

"There are only a couple of skaters potentially on the team that have actually been to the Olympics," Buttle says. "I think it was important for me to be at the training camp. Not really force on them my opinions or what I think, but informally have conversations to ask them how they're doing. I have been through it and I can share with them my awful days leading up to it and how I dealt with it.

"I thought speaking with them one-on-one was the best way. I didn't want to lecture them or anything like that."

As of now, Buttle, 27, knows he'll be performing a couple of shows during the Games at the GE rink, an outdoor rink in the Olympic village. He plans to stay around town and hopes to have a gig blogging for a media outlet.

His own skating season is already in full swing. He'll be competing at the Japan Open on Oct. 3. Prior to that, on Sept. 25, a coffee table book about him will be published in Japan titled Jeffrey Buttle Artist Book: Chapter TWO." The book features photographs from an elaborate and somewhat off beat photo shoot done in Japan in July.

"They are also doing a section of pictures from my past competitive programs and what not, and having me comment on the different events, costumes and stuff like that," he says. "The majority of photos are new. They had some really fun concepts with what to wear and how to pose."

Buttle has performed and competed in Japan many times, including two world championships (2002 and 2007). He also won his first Grand Prix event, NHK Trophy, there.

"They stake a bit of claim on some of the success that I've had because I've had so much of it there," Buttle says. "I'm hoping to be able to go to the bookstores and do some signings while I'm there."

From Japan, he heads to the U.S., where he'll be appearing in several Disson Skating shows. Quite a different path than that of aspiring Olympians, but Buttle has his memories of Torino in 2006 to fuel his Olympic fire.

"I went and did the entire experience. I stayed in the village. I did the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. I made the most of it because you never know what could happen in four years. I'm glad in hindsight that I did go and have the full experience," he says.

"It wasn't entirely positive," he continues. "I kind of went in with this idea that it was going to be all positive and great. You forget that it's a competition and there's a lot of stress and pressure. At the beginning of the Games, I'm not sure that I handled it very well, but then as it progressed I became more and more comfortable and a little more aware of setting my expectations maybe too high. I was able to give it the respect it deserved and at the same time make the most of it."

He went into a zone and focused on his performances. When the men's competition was done, Buttle was standing on the podium. For the first time, he looked into the stands and saw his family.

For the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, the host country of Canada has legitimate medal contenders in all four skating disciplines. While Buttle says that would be incredible, he's thinking the results of recent world championships make him think the figure skating medal count for Canada will probably be three.

"We've been very consistent with three," he says. "That would be unbelievable if we were to get three medals."