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Jeff has an on on-line journal to share with his fans.Past Entries: 04-05
Entry Date: 10/03/07
So summer has come and past, and the competition season is about to begin. This can only mean one thing... I've abandoned my journal entries, but I assure you it was for good reasons. For what else but training! My summer training was great this year, and complete (no unplanned August to November hiatus due to injury). I'm pleased to say it was a quiet season, mostly spent in the mountains with the occasional trip to do a couple of shows here and there (more on that later). I really do enjoy the training, the seclusion, and the weather in the mountains during the summer. It seems like we're above the bad weather (in terms of altitude, not snobbery), with consistently clear blue skies, but without that unbearable heat or smog of L.A.
Training itself was quite a bit different this summer for me in the mountains. First off, I've started with an off-ice trainer while I'm here which has definitely helped in the strength department. Before I would bring my programs with me from my Canadian trainer and do my own thing at the gym, which is fine but you can really go that extra mile when someone is there to spot you and guide you. As a result I've been able to bring more intensity on the ice, which translates to bigger jumps and a happier coach! I've also allowed that Mao Asada work ethic to rub off on me a bit (plain and simple, she skates longer hours than I do!). When I balanced school and skating, it was straight-forward: I could skate only two hours each day because the rest of the time was spent in lectures/labs, studying, or commuting. Since then, I've more or less done the 2-3 hours on the ice because it was a habit I suppose. This year, I'm beginning to skate longer hours and realizing that maybe my body isn't as old as my age might suggest, lol!
I had some great opportunities this summer that I managed to do alongside the training. The first was a quick 4-day trip to Japan for 4 shows in Nagoya. It was a blast to be able to travel there on my own and perform for a few days. It was a quick trip, but the Japanese skating fans and organizers of the event made me feel like I was at home... Actually, even my family isn't that nice to me, haha, just kidding guys! The next show I did was the Mariposa Charity Gala in Barrie. This gave me a chance to go home for the week and train with Lee, visit with friends and family, and of course be involved in a great show for a great cause. The first time I went to see this gala was about 16 years ago, and Brian Orser performed as well as my coach Lee Barkell with his partner (now wife) Melanie Gaylor. This time around, both Lee and Brian sat at ice level while their students performed, and maybe some day this cycle will continue. Doug Leigh began this annual tradition, and it's an essential part of being a skater at the Mariposa School of Skating. It's also our opportunity to give back to the community and of course to Doug himself. Also I forgot to mention that while home in Canada in August, the whole Buttle family got together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of living in Canada (I've included a picture of the occasion). My Grandparents immigrated from England in 1957 with their 4 children (my father included), and have been here ever since. It was so cool to hear about the process they went through and was a little shocked to hear that I was almost a Kiwi. New Zealand was actually their first choice at the time, but apparently due to a restriction on the number of children of an immigrating family, the Buttles' chose Canada instead. I'm glad they did! My final show of the summer was in Baltimore for Kimmie's Angels on Ice. The proceeds from the show went to the Cool Kids Campaign, an organization helping families dealing with pediatric oncology. It was such a great experience, and I must say that it was the best post-show reception I've ever been to. It catered to the kids (as it should) and there was plenty of ice cream, cake, and desserts. Not a vegetable in sight!
The Buttle family!
After that it was back to business and getting ready for the monitoring camp in Vancouver. It's just another one of those opportunities that I had to miss out on last year so I really wanted to get as much out of it as possible. At the present time, I think Skate Canada is really giving it their all at making sure their athletes are trained and ready for the Grand Prix Circuit. Also, I believe this camp has the potential to be a great prep for the 2010 games. Over the next couple of years it would be fantastic if we could manage to fill the rink with people and truly simulate a competition. That said, it was great to have people there at all to watch and they were so receptive even though we may not have been in peak condition. It was also great to see the team as we are so seldom together throughout the year. And if you know the Canadian Team at all, you probably know that we truly are a team! We are so supportive of one another and get along so well, it makes a competitive atmosphere a little more familiar and a lot less stressful.
So I'm spending my last week in the mountains as we speak, then I'm back to the motherland. I'm performing at Kurt's Gotta Skate on October 10th at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, then competing at the Octoberfest competition on the 13th and 14th at the Allandale Recreation Centre in Barrie a.k.a. the Mariposa School of Skating. A busy week, but I'm finally going to be able to do Kurt's show after having to sit it out last year. When I think about where I was a year ago this time I'm really quite proud of how far I've come. There were some days when hanging up the skates and hitting the books seemed like the more logical choice, but the heart wants what it wants so I'm glad I pushed through.
On a random note, my parents got my sister and I a gift certificate for a cooking class. I mention this because as I'm typing this journal I'm trying to figure out what kind of soup I'll be microwaving for dinner, and it donned on me that some day in the near future I'll instead be debating which gourmet meal to prepare. I can't believe how confident I am that this one cooking class is going to transform me, but anything has got to be better than my present skills.
I'll keep you all posted in the future on my culinary improvements, oh and my skating too I suppose! ;-) Thanks for lending me your time and hope to see you at some point this season.
Entry Date: 06/11/07
So much has happened over the past couple months that I'm not really sure where to begin. I suppose, with worlds.
I think it goes without saying that I'm not very pleased with how I skated in the long program, but that I deserved the placement that I ended up with (certainly no better, and thank heavens for a great short!). Everyone I spoke to encouraged me by saying that it was a tough season and I came back strong, but practices were going far too well to skate the way I did. It was definitely a struggle mentally skating last in the long program, and was definitely an eye opener in terms of what I need to improve. Mental strength is not something that can be acquired simply through on-ice training, it's something that you need to live 24/7. So this is my mission for the next year!
After the World Championships Joannie, myself, Brian (in Japan as Yu-na's coach) and Kurt (commentating for t.v.) quite literally flew right to Halifax for Stars on Ice rehearsals. This truly is an awesome experience, and every year I feel so lucky to be a part of the production. Rehearsals are long days because we have only 2-3 days to learn all the group numbers, and polish the solos that we may never have performed before. Despite the long hours, Cindy and Tara, the choreographer and assistant choreographer keep it fun and make the time fly by! They're awesome! For this years tour, Double Exposure" being the theme, I tried something very different. I sported a Mohawk, then skated to Disney… now if that isn't polar opposites than I'm not sure what is! Even better, is sharing the ice with my idols doing hysterical numbers like the 60's number closing the first half. My very favorite moment in the show however, was a highlight in the Finale that I shared with Brian Orser. After performing his solo to standing ovations every night, I had the honour of sharing the ice with him in the finale and it gave me goosebumps EVERY night!
Some of the cast biking in Victoria, B.C. Beautiful!
Shortly thereafter I went through Stars on Ice withdrawl, but had the chance to meet up with a couple of the castmembers (Joannie and Todd) at the Japan Open in Saitama. The three of us with Kimmie Meissner formed Team North America. Having a competition after tour seems like it could be a challenge, but the three of us had been training our programs during practices on tour, so we had a great time in Japan and the atmosphere of the event even with a sold-out crowd in a huge venue was very relaxed and fun! In the exhibition I performed my stars on ice numbers and think that the Japanese fans liked the punk number by the Clash because I've never heard them react so loudly. It was pretty wild!
Following a few more club shows and a seminar at my homeclub of Sudbury, it was time for vacation!!!! My friends decided to just hop in a car and tear up the freeways between Toronto and Los Angeles. It was a great chance to see friends from across the country, catch up with the guys in the car, but also experience landscapes that we wouldn't ever normally see. I think my favorite place was the stretch of road we covered in Utah. It was south of Salt Lake, and it was EPIC deserted lanscape, that made you realize how you are a small part of a much bigger whole! Too philosophical for an internet journal? Regardless, it silenced us five guys for a fair chunk of time while we took it all in.
On the roadtrip, we did the usual must-do things. Stayed in really, really cheap motels (the cheaper the better), we ate at unheard of local diners, got tattoos in Vegas, and shopped a bit in L.A. Also, I had the chance in Chicago to see the taping of an Oprah show, which was a great experience. Skating is usually the only thing I would drag my butt out of bed for at 5:45am, but I made an exception for this naturally! We arrived at HARPO studios at roughly 7am, signed in and waited in the "holding room" until about 8:30 or so. We were all exhausted, but as soon as they brought us into the studios it was like we were all given a double espresso because we were wide awake and pumped for the show! The show itself was the cast of "Hairspray" the movie, so we had the opportunity to hear from John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, the young star of the movie Nikki Blonsky, and of course Oprah Winfrey. All in all it was an awesome trip! I've done the beach thing before and feel like a road trip is something everyone should do at least once.
The guys of Road Trip 2007 posing in Black Dragon Canyon, Utah.
Recommendations for a roadtrip: stop at every border and take pictures with state signs, play car games over and over (we stuck to both "20 questions" and "license plate games"), wave and introduce yourself to strangers (it's amazing who you'll meet!)
Hope you all have an excellent summer. I will do the same! Thanks again for all of the support and interest in how I'm doing.
Entry Date: 03/07/07
It's been more than 2 months since my last journal entry so there's a lot to talk about. I guess I should start with the obvious and that would be the 2007 BMO Canadian Championships.
It was a very special event for me this year because it was my first competition of the season. I would love to say that I entered the event beaming with confidence, but this year has been a struggle in terms of dealing with the injury and recovering from time lost. My goal, more than defending the title was to qualify for the 4CC and World teams, and get feedback on the programs and specific elements. Normally feedback would be something I would have gotten in September, allowing me some time to make necessary changes, so I was thankful that the programs were so well received. Winning for a third time was definitely special. There's no doubt that the idea of losing the title had crossed my mind, in fact the idea of missing the championships altogether was also a possibility earlier in the season, so my mentality was very different. In 2005 I had nothing to lose and a title to gain, and in 2006 I was moreso focused on qualifying for the Games, but this year was a blessing (as cheesy as it sounds!). I took the ice in Halifax just thankful to be there, to be back on the ice, and to perform.
Less than two weeks after Halifax, it was time to travel to Colorado Springs. The last time I was there, I spent most of the time in bed on I.V., so this trip was much more successful, lol! Obviously it would have been ideal to be the 3-time 4CC champion, but I just didn't attack my triple axels in the long and therefore had to settle with 2nd place. I did enjoy having both Raf and Lee at the boards with me for the first time since Worlds in Moscow. Since Raf hadn't seen me skate since August (just before injuring myself), it gave him an oppurtunity to see what had improved, and what still needed improving.
The past couple of weeks I've been training in Lake Arrowhead, California with Raf and I can tell that my endurance has improved significantly. I want to approach these championships with a "nothing to lose" mentality. Last year in Calgary, I was trying to prove my result in Torino as though they might take the medal away from me if I didn't follow through. That pressure exhausted me and it wasn't even necessary, just plain stupid! This year I'm skating in Tokyo because it's what I want to do. Having an injury can really help any skater identify whether they're skating because they've never considered anything else or because they love it too much to leave it. I love the training(both on and off-ice), performing, and competing; way too much to leave it! That's why I'm going to Japan.
Well I guess I should leave it at that. After Worlds I'm traveling directly to Halifax for the HSBC Stars on Ice presented by Smucker's rehearsals, so my next journal entry will probably be while I'm on the road touring. Very excited for that, and hopefully I'll see many of you at one of the shows! Thanks for checking out the site and for all the support, and I'll talk to you all soon.
Entry Date: 12/29/06
This is my first journal entry of what will be many. I promise! There's so much to talk about and say to you all since I've been unable to compete on the grand prix circuit. I guess I'll start by saying that I'm back to regular training both on and off the ice and couldn't be happier.
In preparation for nationals I thought it would be a good idea to do a few shows and skate in front of some audiences. The first show I had the oppurtunity to do was the Holiday Festival on Ice in Prince George. The cast of the show was awesome and I don't think I stopped laughing the whole time I was there. For the actual show, I performed a new christmas number called "River", a song written by Joni Mitchell (One of my favorite Canadian artists!), and my second number was my current competitive short program.
Following this chirstmas show, I did a quick tour of Ontario with Celebration on Ice. I figured since I had performed my short at "Holiday Festival", that it only made sense to do my competitive long in the "Celebration" tour. It was a lot of fun performing again(I missed it!!), and of course training with my friends (Jo, Shawn, and Cyn).
Now, it's back to regular training in preparation for the National Championships in Halifax. Normally this is a very stressful time for me as I'm anxious to compete already, but with the circumstances of this season I'm taking one day at a time and doing my best to be patient. That said, I still want to defend my title, haha!!
Hope you all had a Merry Christmas (or respective holiday), and I'm wishing you all a happy New Year!