01 May 2008 22:11:46
Jeff Buttle - still living the dream


April 25, 2008

BARRIE, ONT. -- Everywhere Jeff Buttle goes since winning
the world figure skating championships last month, people
recognize him, tip their hats to him and even thank him.

"It's overwhelming," he said yesterday. "But it's cool."

It's an experience far removed from the times Buttle won
a world silver medal (2005) and an Olympic bronze medal
(2006).

"I thought everyone watched the Olympics, and after the
Olympics, this is the most people are going to recognize
you in grocery stores," Buttle said. "But after the
worlds, it was so much more than I had anticipated, from
people on the street who don't really know about skating,
but who still knew I won the world championships."

A case in point: Buttle and his choreographer David
Wilson, who has also just had his first
world-championship win, were sauntering down Yonge Street
in Toronto when a young man driving by slowed down,
rolled down his car window and yelled: "Hey, Byootle!
Byootle! Good job at the world championships, man!"

On Thursday, Buttle found himself back at the Mariposa
skating club in Barrie for the first time since he won
the world title. He's been too busy to set foot at Mother
Mariposa in the past month.

Since the world championships, he's made a string of
television media appearances and even played himself on
an Air Farce Live TV skit entitled Buttlemania.

For that, he donned his red free-skate costume (gold
medal around his neck), wheeled onto the set on inline
skates, delivered some political quips and earned a
standing ovation from the live audience.

While the appearance was his acting debut, Buttle,
typically humble, says it was probably his finale as
well.

He has also skated in four stops of the Canadian Stars on
Ice tour, including last night at the Air Canada Centre
in Toronto. At the opening show in Halifax, Buttle got a
standing ovation from the audience before he even started
skating. "It was very intense," he said.

He has also appeared on CBC's The Hour and attended the
Juno Awards ceremony.

"It's all been kind of crazy," he said. "I didn't think
skating was as well-known as it apparently is."

But don't expect Buttle to dive into the appearance or
show circuit with a vengeance. "I've always been a little
bit cautious about how much I put on my plate," he said
with an eye on the Vancouver Olympics two years from now.
"After the worlds there was quite a lot that I wasn't
expecting," he said.

In the past month, he had two new programs designed for
the tour, and barely had them finished when he caught the
flu. He's still feeling the residual effects of the bug.

The opportunities, however, are still arising. Agent
David Baden says Buttle is still associated with VISA,
Bell and Rona and other deals are in the works.

And he's been invited to two International Management
Group skating shows in Korea and a string of four shows
in Japan, called Mao Asada and Friends.

Finally, he'll make his first World Vision tour in August
in South America, although the details of which country
he will visit haven't been sorted out.

Buttle's exuberance at the end of his flawless free skate
in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he slapped the ice with both
hands and screamed, is a classic. He said that he had
always dreamed of such moments.

"It's so weird when you're a kid, this is what you dream
about," he said. "And to accomplish it definitely feels
like a dream come true."

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