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Unmotivated Mabee to sit out the season

Vows return for Olympic year

Mabee says he lacked the motivation to skate this season.
Mabee says he lacked the motivation to skate this season. (Skate Canada)

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By Laurie Nealin, special to icenetwork.com
(10/10/2008) - Canadian fan favorite Christopher Mabee, who was to launch his season at Skate America this month, has pulled the plug on competing anywhere this year, but vows to return with a vengeance for the 2009-10 Olympic season.

This week, the ISU scratched Mabee's name from his two Grand Prix assignments, after the skater advised Skate Canada that his heart just wasn't in it.

"I had a meeting with my coaches [Doug Leigh and Lee Barkell] about a week-and-a-half ago and we just decided right now that for me -- mentally, physically, everything -- it would be best for me if I took a break and re-evaluated some things and tried to find a bit of motivation because it's been lacking ever since nationals pretty much," said Mabee by cell-phone as he travelled from his family home in Tillsonburg, Ontario, to conduct a youth skating development seminar in the Toronto area.

"My motivation and my drive was really low, the drive to get on the ice and get run-throughs done. We just thought it would be beneficial to take a little bit of time off, reflect on my career and re-evaluate where I want to be. I want to make sure for 2010 that I'm in an environment where I'm going to be motivated and ready to go for the entire year.

"With the Olympic year being so important, I want to make sure I'm in the right mindframe so I can give it my all for that last final year," said the 23-year-old athlete, who intends to train enough through the year to keep his triple jumps sharp.

Canada's 10th-ranked man Ian Martinez, 19, will replace Mabee at Skate America. He finished fifth and 10th on the junior Grand Prix circuit last season and was on the ISU selection list on the strength of his 153-point total score earned at the first event.

"I'm really happy that another Canadian was given an opportunity to go out on the international scene and show what they're capable of. I'm more than thrilled for him about that opportunity," Mabee said.

Mabee took the silver medal at the Canadian Championships in 2007 and ranked 13th in his first and only appearance to date at the senior world championships. In 2008, he dropped back to fifth nationally following a problematic freeskate which spelled a premature end to his season.

Mabee did do a summer competition -- ranking second at Thornhill with 163 points behind ninth-ranked Canadian Joey Russell -- and attended last month's elite Canadian training camp in Vancouver.

"That was where I kind of hit the wall or had my epiphany," Mabee revealed. "My short program was not so good, but my long program was a lot better. Rather than feeling like this is a great motivation to keep going, keep pushing, I wasn't feeling motivated. I didn't feel like I wanted to go back to the rink to train.

"If I have to push so hard at this time, come nationals or worlds, it's going to be three times harder and I just feel that I don't want to do the year half-ass, I guess."

Mabee added, "The minute I made the decision, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and I felt better about everything."

Mabee said he talked with recently-retired world champion and long-time friend Jeffrey Buttle about how he was feeling, but Buttle's own decision was not a factor in the direction Mabee decided to go. "He re-inforced that you can't force it [the motivation]. Either it's there or it's not. It's what I've decided and I am sticking to it."

Despite only having been away from training for a week, Mabee said he was already "starting to get a little stir-crazy." Still, he's back home, for the first time in 12 years after training in Barrie, and reconnecting with his parents and older brother and sister.

He intends to do some coaching at his home club in Tillsonburg and at other clubs in the area and will work on finishing off his coaching certification for that.