But he will be in Saskatoon is spirit, through Fedor Andreev, who will try to win one of the spots open for men to get to the world championships in Los Angeles in March. And that's because Andreev will skate two programs choreographed by Buttle, who retired from competitive skating in September.
Last Sunday, Andreev won the senior men's qualifying event for the Canadian championships, skating with Buttle programs.
Could this be the start of a new career for Buttle?
Buttle, who watched his programs for the first time on Sunday at the qualifying event, said although he's done “pretty programs for pretty girls” in the past, he's never done any for a senior skater like Andreev.
“It was a great opportunity for me to work with somebody who is really strong and masculine,” he said.
The Russian-born Andreev, whose mother is famous choreographer Marina Zoueva, was a Canadian junior champion in 1999, then won a bronze medal at the senior level in 2003 in Saskatoon. He quit skating with back problems after the 2005 season, but returned last season to win the qualifying event. He was eighth at the national championships last year, which meant he had to qualify again for them this year.
Last year, he returned for the love of skating. This year, Andreev says he's more competition-minded. He wants to win something this time. And this time, he turned to Buttle because “I just felt I could use Jeff's talent and creativity.'' He's now also working with Brian Orser as a coach at times, and said his skating has improved tremendously. He says he feels more solid on the ice.
Buttle picked out the music for Andreev's short program, while Andreev's mother helped him pick the first violin concerto from Tchaikovsky for his long program. A little known fact about Andreev: he played the violin for 10 years and used to be part of the Ottawa Youth Orchestra.
The short program is to Jimi Hendrix music.
“Fedor is a real good looking guy and I wanted to give him something sexy, even a bit subtle,” Buttle said. “He doesn't really need to do much to be sexy on the ice [he's a former Calvin Klein model]. It's just something I know he's never done before and something I think he could have a lot of fun with.''