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Buttle preparing new programs in California

World champion looking forward to next season

Jeffrey Buttle shows off his men's gold men from world championships in Sweden.
Jeffrey Buttle shows off his men's gold men from world championships in Sweden. (Getty Images)

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By Laurie Nealin, special to icenetwork.com
(07/16/2008) - Jeffrey Buttle takes what he calls "nature walks" several times a day when he is training in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., -- not for pleasure, mind you, but out of necessity.

It seems that the tree-shrouded cottage in which the world champion lives while working with coach Raphael Arutunian is impenetrable when it comes to communicating via cellphone, so Buttle takes his Blackberry outside in search of a signal.

"I'll take one step to the left," said the three-time Canadian champ when informed that a strange echo was distorting his voice during an interview with icenetwork.com.

Buttle arrived in California about a week ago after working with choreographer David Wilson in Toronto to create his new programs for the 2008-09 season.

His short program is set to a piano and strings composition by Ryuichi Sakamoto. Buttle describes the piece, entitled "May in the Backyard," as "very avant-garde in its style, yet with a classical feel."

"It's really cool. When I asked David about it, he loved it. It's kind of playful in parts, then sharp in other parts. It brings out my personality. At the same time, it's doing something I've never really done before," Buttle said.

The long program is a "very classic, very clean" piece by British composer Gerald Finzi. Buttle said he downloaded it onto his iPod without realizing it, but when he heard it he was immediately attracted to the music. It is entitled "Eclogue," a word which means a literary or musical poetic verse.

This week, Buttle is headed to South Korea where the who's who of the sport will perform in two Superstars on Ice shows this weekend. Then, it's off to Japan for four shows headlined by his female counterpart Mao Asada. Buttle reported that Evgeny Plushenko and Evan Lysacek will perform in Korea, while Sasha Cohen is slated to skate in both countries.

The global travel should prove to be a good warm-up for the season ahead which will see Buttle travel to Beijing for the Cup of China and, hopefully, back to Seoul for the Grand Prix Final.

The Cup of China comes on the heels of the Skate Canada event, but that doesn't faze Buttle in the least since he reports never having suffered jet-lag when traveling to Asia.

"I might get affected a little bit on the way back. Traveling to Europe affects me more. I'm not really sure why. The first night I just make sure I don't fall asleep too early and then my body is pretty quick at adjusting to schedules," said Buttle, who won the 2004 Cup of China in Beijing.

Buttle has not committed to any summer competitions as yet, preferring to wait and see how well his programs progress. If he were to do a competition, it would be the Thornhill event which is held in the Toronto area in mid-August.

After returning from Asia, Buttle will train for a few more weeks in California before heading home to his training site in Barrie, Ontario, where he will also perform on Aug. 7th with a star-studded cast in the annual Mariposa Gala, a fundraiser for a local hospital.

"This year's show is going to be so awesome. There are so many great skaters performing," he noted.

Buttle is the third world men's champion from Canada to come out of the Mariposa school. Brian Orser was the first, followed by Elvis Stojko.

"It's crazy, really. They have everyone's names and their international and national results on these boards. It's pretty cool that I can join that Barrie club," said Buttle, whose own stats have not yet been updated to mark his global win last March.

"Maybe they are waiting until after the [2010] Olympics," Buttle chuckled.

In response to the question that Buttle is perennially asked about his intentions to get a quadruple jump into his repertoire, he said he will focus on training that jump once his physical strength is back up to championship form later this summer. As for the changes the ISU made -- increasing the points awarded for quads while also taking greater deductions if the attempt fails -- Buttle said his intent is to have his quad so consistent that the risk of missing it is a non-issue.

So far, the highlight of Buttle's summer has been performing outdoors in Sun Valley, Idaho, at one of the legendary summer ice shows held there. He described last weekend's new experience as "really neat, really cool."

The last time Buttle skated outdoors was at the annual opening of an outdoor ice rink last December in Barrie. It was -20 Celsius for that outing.