BY KEITH LACEY
Sudbury skaters are stealing the show at the BMO Financial Group National Figure Skating Championships in Saskatoon.
Lively?s Megan Duhamel, 15, is a national champion after winning the junior ladies championship.
Jeffrey Buttle, who calls Sudbury home despite moving with his family to Barrie and the national training centre several years ago, was the leader in the senior men?s championships heading into Friday?s short program.
Buttle, 20, attempted to become a national champion Saturday evening in the senior men?s long program. The men?s long program was expected to be viewed by millions of viewers as the championships were broadcast coast-to-coast by CTV.
In the junior ladies long program, the top three athletes all attempted the triple Lutz, and Duhamel fought for a clean landing.
Runner-up Alberta?s Amanda Billings had a slight touch down of the free foot, but was technically solid.
Third-place finisher, Monica Boucher, also from Alberta, fell on her triple Lutz attempt.
Duhamel skated a clean program and deserved first place ordinals. Her triple loop/double toe combination, from a difficult rotating three take-off was fast, high and dynamic. She was clearly delighted with her performance, smiling from ear-to-ear following the completion of the difficult elements.
Duhamel was the last skater in the junior ladies competition and passed Billings, who executed a technically perfect triple toe/double toe combination and charmed the Saskatoon crowd.
Daniella Cotesta of the Copper Cliff Skating Club finished ninth in the junior ladies competition.
Last year, Buttle proved he could compete against the world?s very best. In 2002, Buttle competed in his first world championships in Nagano, Japan.
He earned that right by placing a strong third at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Hamilton, which he followed up with a first-place finish at the Four Continents championship in Korea.
At the prestigious NHK championships in Japan, Buttle showed the world he was ready for big things by placing second against a top field, including many of the world?s top 10 skaters.