This article is from TSN:
EDMONTON (CP) - The qualifying round separated the contenders from the pretenders at figure skating's BMO Financial Group Canadian championships on Tuesday.
Emanuel Sandhu moves on to the next round, and Tim White goes back to Ziggy's Fish and Chips.
Two sessions were held and, to favourites such as Sandhu, they were nothing more than glorified practices. With qualifying worth only 20 per cent of the overall mark, the best stuff was saved for more important phases of the competition. Only about 200 spectators showed up at the city's 16,000-seat arena to watch a field of 31 trimmed to 24.
``The rest of the week is what I'm concentrating on,'' said Sandhu, who didn't land half the jumps he did last month in winning the Grand Prix final
It didn't matter. The defending champion from Richmond Hill, Ont., was judged best in his session, followed by Fedor Andreev of Ottawa and Chris Mabee of Tillsonburg, Ont.
Jeffrey Buttle of Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., was first in the other session with a better performance than the one by Sandhu. Ben Ferreira of Edmonton was second and Jayson Denomee of Asbestos, Que., was third.
The battle for gold by the time the free skating show rolls around Saturday is expected to be between Sandhu and Buttle, who was runner-up last year.
``It's going to be a question of who has the better skate on that day,'' said Buttle. ``I think either of us is capable of taking the title.''
White won't be around. As one of the men lopped from the list Tuesday, he goes home to Lindsay, Ont., where he's assistant manager of Ziggy's Fish and Chips. The 24-year-old skater has no regrets.
``Even if I finish last, I don't care,'' he said before learning the judges had indeed placed him last. ``This was all about proving to myself that I could get here.
``I'm proud of that.''
He's a pairs skater but his partner quit so he tried nationals on his own, even though competing against full-time pros made him a rank outsider.
``I don't consider it to be a handicap,'' he said of the necessity to hold down a full-time job. ``If it means working 40 hours a week to train for 12 hours a week, I'm prepared to do that.
``I'll find a pairs partner and be back next year.''
He can't win a medal but give him an A for attitude.
Meanwhile, Andreev was happy just to make it to the rink after arriving at midnight Monday night. The 2003 bronze medallist trains in Detroit where his mother, Marina Zoueva, is a skating choreographer, and his connecting flight west didn't pan out. The six-foot-one, Moscow-born skater was stranded for nine hours.
``I was stuck in Minneapolis, helpless,'' he said. ``Considering all that, it felt pretty good'' to skate well Tuesday.
Mabee looks to improve on his ninth-place finish in his debut at the senior level at last winter's nationals. Only 18, he is one of Canada's top prospects in the sport. Last month in Sweden, he won a bronze medal at the Junior Grand Prix final, becoming the first Canadian to step onto the men's singles podium at the annual meet.
``Our hope is to squeeze into that last group of five and make the national senior team for next season,'' said Lee Barkell, who coach's Mabee with Doug Leigh in Barrie, Ont.
He's been a fan favourite for years.
``I really can connect with an audience,'' said Mabee, who has been competing at nationals since he was 11.
Matthew King of Watford, Ont., was 11th in his group and advanced, which was surprising given that only two weeks ago he fractured a rib when the car he was driving hit black ice and crashed. The 21-year-old skater had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee - his landing knee in skating - a month ago.
``I came here for the experience and to see if I could do this under pressure,'' he said, adding he had no preconceived notion of winning a medal.
Like White, King is a part-time skater who works as cook at a Strathroy, Ont., Burger King to pay for his skating lessons.
He'll watch Sandhu and Buttle and some of the others to pick up what he can.
``They're the ones who push us to be better skaters,'' said King.
Joel Geleynse of the Ottawa-region community of Inkerman, didn't advance but he's got other irons in the fire. The 23-year-old singer-songwriter's recently-recorded CD, In Rebellion of Camouflage, will be in stores soon.