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Sudbury skaters winners at national competition

Sudbury is the toast of the Canadian figure skating scene following outstanding performances by two area skaters at the national championships last week.
Sudbury is the toast of the Canadian figure skating scene following outstanding performances by two area skaters at the national championships last week.

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Meagan Duhamel 17, of Lively won the national junior women?s title and will compete at the world junior championships in the Czech Republic next month.

Jeffrey Buttle, 20, continued to prove he?s among the best young male skaters in the world finishing second at the BMO Financial Group Canadian Figure Skating Championships in Saskatoon.

Buttle finished second to Emmanuel Sandhu in the men?s singles competition and earned himself a trip to the world championships, set for Washington, D.C. in late March.

Buttle, who had a breakthrough season last year, was thrilled with his second-place performance.

Speaking to Northern Life from his Barrie home?Buttle?s family moved from Sudbury to Barrie for Jeffrey?s skating career several years ago?he said he was only one quadruple jump away from becoming a national champion.

?I?m very happy finishing second?it was a very tight competition,? he said. ?I two-footed by quad jump, but it was my intention to go for it and I managed to carry on and pull everything together and skate clean the rest of the way.

?If I landed the quad, I think I would have won it.?

Sandhu fell twice during his performance, but attempted two quad jumps and had an extremely difficult program, said Buttle.

Gaining a spot at the world championships was his goal and that mission has been accomplished, he said.

Buttle said he and his coaches Doug Leigh and Lee Barkell will now set a goal for the world championships.

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?I?m just coming down from nationals and it will be up to my coaches to decide what I should be gunning for at worlds,? he said.

?I do know my main focus has to be to land the quad in competition. The rest of my program is very strong and if I can land that jump, I think I should do very well.?

Buttle is in his second year of chemical engineering studies at the University of Toronto.

The demands of being a world-class skater and student haven?t caused any major problems so far, he said.

?My professors know all about my skating and they?re very good to me,? he said.

His long-term goal remains competing for Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy and his strong results the past two years have him convinced he?ll achieve that goal, said Buttle.

Before the world championships, Buttle will compete at the Four Continents Cup in the middle of February in Beijing, China.

After winning the national title, Northern Life tried to reach Duhamel and her family, but they were returning from Saskatoon and couldn?t be reached for comment.

This was the third national meet for Duhamel. Her older sister, Heather, competed at nationals in Ottawa in 1999 and inspired her to do the same.

Duhamel moved in the summer of 2000 to Barrie to train at the Mariposa School of Skating.

Her mom, Heidi, works at the Sudbury Regional Hospital Memorial Site. Her dad, Danny, is a sales rep for a major paint manufacturer.

Her parents were at Saskatchewan Place to witness the win.

The four-foot-11 skater has represented Canada at different competitions in Sweden, Chicago, Slovenia, France and Slovakia.