After 20 years of honing his craft on the ice, Canada’s Jeffrey Buttle announced his retirement from competitive skating at a press conference in Toronto this morning. Buttle was joined by his long-time coach Lee Barkell and members of the Skate Canada team.
Though the Skate Canada folks were decidedly sorry to see their star leave the amateur ranks, Buttle, the 2008 World champion and his parents, Lesley and Peter Buttle, were all smiles.
“This is obviously a very difficult day for us at Skate Canada,” CEO William Thompson said. “However, I will say that I admire his decision and we, as an organization, are fully supportive of Jeff and whatever he chooses to do in the future.
“For us, it is more important that our athletes are well-rounded individuals who go on to great things in their lives and I have no doubt that Jeffrey will succeed in life from this point forward as well as he has to date,” Thompson said. “So yes, while we are sad to lose our World champion and I am certainly not going to say we are not, we are completely supportive of Jeff.”
Buttle read from a prepared speech. Here is what he had to say:
“Since the age of six I have been competing in the sport of figure skating and competing internationally since the age of 14. I have been very fortunate to be able to what I love to do and blessed as well to have had the success that I have had.
“That being said, I am here today to announce my retirement from amateur competition.
“Since winning the World Figure Skating Championships I have been contemplating the next step in my life. It was then that I realized how proud I am of my accomplishments in the sport.
“As a kid, I had always dreamed of being the best of the world but at that age and in that time, it was simply a dream. Somewhere along the way with hard work and amazing support from my coaches, choreographer, Skate Canada and my family that dream became a goal and then a reality.
“It is hard to describe the exact path that brought me to the top of the podium but following the medal at the 2006 Olympics I could see it was no easy path.
“Following a stress fracture in my back the next season, I faced three to four months of off ice rehabilitation, a painful on-ice recovery and a long and actually difficult period to get into championship shape.
“This sounds like such a negative and arduous experience, but I mention it because it was all undoubtedly worth it to win in Sweden and hear the Canadian national anthem.
“I am now prepared to take the same passion and dedication to succeed and direct it into new facets of my life. This of course will still involve skating because performing has always been a love of mine. As for staying involved in the sport and the organization, it is inevitable because it is a part of my life and I want to give back in any way that I can.
The one thing Buttle will not be relinquishing is his amateur status. Though he plans to continue skating on another level, he has no plans to turn professional and close that one-way door permanently.
IFS will run the second half of the press conference tomorrow, where Buttle answers questions from the press together with comments from Barkell on the retirement of his star pupil.