Friday, March 21, 2008

Brilliant short program for Weir but Buttle Leads

Canadian Jeffrey Buttle won the men's short program at the world figure skating championships on Friday.

In a confident performance to Astor Piazzolla's Adios Nonino, Buttle took a surprise lead going into Saturday's final as several of the favorites, including defending champion Brian Joubert, made crucial mistakes.

Buttle, second in this year's Four Continents competition and bronze medalist at the Turin Olympics, scored the highest technical mark to end on 82.10 points, comfortably ahead of American Johnny Weir in second on 80.79 points.

Weir, coached by 1992 Olympic champion Viktor Petrenko and Galina Zmievskaia, turned in a near-faultless skate. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi was third on 80.40 points after a jump error.

Frenchman Joubert fell on his triple lutz and eked out just 77.75 points to stand sixth after a two-point deduction. An ISU official said France was appealing one of the deduction points, which was for the use of music with vocals.

Buttle said he felt "comfortable and confident" on the ice as he executed a clean short program.

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