Jeffrey Buttle burst onto the international scene in 2002 when he upset the favorites to win the ISU Four Continents Championships, a feat he repeated in 2004. He placed eighth in his Worlds debut, receiving great praise for his musicality and artistry. In 2005, he earned his first World Championships medal and in 2006 he was the leading skater on the Canadian Winter Olympic team, winning the bronze medal. World Championships gold was his in 2008 (the first Canadian man to win the title in 11 years), when two strong performances placed him on the top step of the podium.
"It was definitely an exciting season. I'm obviously elated with the World Championships," he said. "At first, it was shocking. It didn't seem like it was real. It took a while to digest the title itself. After, I felt there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Instead of this pressure you'd think I might feel it was the opposite. I feel very at ease on the ice."
Being World Champion does come with some off-ice perks. Buttle was an invited guest at the Juno Awards (Canadian equivalent of the Grammy Awards), where he walked the red carpet and met singer-songwriter Leslie Fiest. He was a guest on Canada's No. 1 comedy show, Air Farce Live. And he made his talk show debut with an appearance on The Hour.
Buttle has been skating since the age of 2 and competing since he was 6. He has divided his time between two training bases, working with Lee Barkell at the world-renowned Mariposa School Skating in Barrie, Ontario, and Raphael Arutunian at the Ice Castle International Training Center in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. He also spends time working with choreographer David Wilson at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club. He has appreciated the willingness of all members of his training team to work collaboratively.
With a World title now to his credit, Buttle feels motivated to explore more innovative approaches to skating. On Sept. 10, 2008 he announced his retirement from competitive skating.
"Representing Canada around the world has been an honor and I'm very proud of my achievements as a competitive figure skater," said Buttle, who is retaining his eligible status and leaving the door open for a future return to Olympic sport. "I've had so much support throughout my career-I'll be forever grateful to my fans, coaches and of course, my family."
Buttle's performance skills and willingness to experiment with diverse choreography have been honed by four years with Stars on Ice Canada, with which he will again tour in 2009. Audiences expect the best out of the skaters night in and night out, and he has learned to meet their expectations. Of course, they gave him great motivation in the form of standing ovations before he even skated in recognition of his golden achievements.
At present, he has several U.S. performances on his schedule, including a benefit for the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative and three Disson Skating shows, "Skating Rocks," "Holiday Celebration on Ice" and "Skate for the Heart."
His commitment to his sport extends beyond his own skating. In June 2006, the members of the Canadian national team elected him as national team captain. He was also the athlete representative on the Skate Canada Officials Advisory Committee.
Upon Buttle's retirement, William Thompson, chief executive officer of Skate Canada, said, "Jeff has been a leader and an ambassador for our sport and country over the years. He has embraced his role as a Canadian Champion, World Champion and Olympian by being a role model for young skaters in Canada and will continue to be involved and support Skate Canada. We will miss his wonderful blend of artistry and athleticism and wish him nothing but the best in the future."
Buttle also takes pride in pursuing his education. He has been a student at the University of Toronto, where he studied chemical engineering. Due to the demands of his Olympic pursuit, he temporarily put his studies on hold, but now plans to return to school in the near future.
Buttle gladly uses his renown from skating to benefit good causes. He's skated in several charity galas and also given time to World Vision Canada.
He's received honors for his sense of style on and off the ice. In August 2008, the Mayor of Sudbury, Ontario presented him a plaque in recognition of his accomplishments. In 2002, International Figure Skating magazine named him one of the "Ten Most Beautiful People in Figure Skating."
With his focus on the performance end of the sport, he is ready to let his creativity flow. "Whenever I approached a season, I was always diligent in picking music that really hasn't been done before," said Buttle. "Now as a performer, I am able to be more abstract in my music choices."