March 23, 2008 / 12:08 AM / 9 years ago

Buttle beats Joubert to win men's gold

<p>Figure skaters (R-L) Brian Joubert of France, Jeffrey Buttle of Canada and Johnny Weir of the U.S. pose with their medals after the winning he men's free skating programme at the World figure Skating Championships in Gothenburg March 22, 2008. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor</p>

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Reuters) - Canada’s Jeffrey Buttle won the men’s world championship gold on Saturday, with defending champion Brian Joubert rising from sixth place to take the silver in the final.

Frenchman Joubert had been given a controversial point deduction from his short program score on Friday for using music with lyrics but in the end the penalty had no bearing on the outcome of an event dominated by Buttle.

The Canadian, who won bronze at the Turin Olympics and silver at the 2005 world championships, skated a near-flawless routine to the Ararat soundtrack by Michael Danna and slapped the ice in triumph at the finish.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to become the world champion, I can’t believe I am,” said the unassuming Buttle, struggling to hold back tears of joy.

“It’s been a great week and I worked so hard for this. I really don’t know what to say, it hasn’t sunken in yet.”

Buttle finished with 245.17 points, well ahead of Joubert’s overall 231.22. Johnny Weir of the United States won bronze with 221.84.

It was Joubert, though, who brought roar after roar from the crowd as he went on the attack in his free skate, gesturing to the crowd and reveling in their cheers.

The Frenchman threw his all into a jump-filled performance to a classical rendition of Metallica’s The Unforgiven and Nothing Else Matters that won him the top presentation mark of the afternoon.

CALM CONFIDENCE

Buttle, last to skate, appeared unfazed by the preceding drama, breezing through his routine with calm confidence to top the free skate.

“In a situation like that, all you can do is feed off that energy in the crowd,” smiled the Canadian, who at last year’s championships finished the short program in second place only to fall to sixth in the final.

“This is the greatest audience,” added Buttle. “I can’t believe so many people came to watch us. As athletes, we are so fortunate.”

He paid tribute to his sister Meghan, with whom he competed in ice dancing as a child.

“I guess all the ice dancing with her gave me some basic skating skills, so I thank her for that.”

Weir, coached by 1992 Olympic champion Viktor Petrenko and Galina Zmievskaia, performed an athletic routine to Love is War by Yoav Goren. He had been in second place going into the free skate.

Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi, rated as the favorite following his Four Continents win last month, skated a technically ambitious program that was marred by two falls, including one on his second quadruple jump.

Additional reporting by Oliver Grassman

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