Lam­biel shocks ’em all

Swiss star stuns ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing him­self, with come­back win

Times Colonist - - Sports - BY CLEVE DHEENSAW Times Colonist sports staff

As the two-time de­fend­ing world cham­pion and 2006 Turin Win­ter Olympics sil­ver-medal­list, Stephane Lam­biel of Switzer­land has skated through a lot of doors. He backed through one yes­ter­day, win­ning a strangely twisted men’s ti­tle at the 2006 Skate Canada In­ter­na­tional be­fore 5,347 fans at Save-On-Foods Me­mo­rial Cen­tre.

“It’s like, what’s up?” said Lam­biel, who thought he had no hope af­ter plac­ing sev­enth in the short pro­gram Fri­day, fol­lowed by a long pro­gram yes­ter­day that wasn’t clean, ei­ther.

But ev­ery­body else kept slip slid­ing away on the SOFMC ice sur­face, like the Salmon Kings on one of their par­tic­u­larly bad nights in the past, and handed the ti­tle to Lam­biel. This is a guy who nor­mally wouldn’t need such an early Christ­mas gift.

“Af­ter the short pro­gram, I thought it’s im­pos­si­ble to get a medal,” said Lam­biel, a na­tional hero in Switzer­land.

That door to the top podium was wide open for the de­fend­ing and three-time U.S. cham­pion Johnny Weir but he was un­able to knock it down, fad­ing to the bronze medal plac­ing af­ter en­ter­ing the long pro­gram in sec­ond place.

With short-pro­gram leader and Ja­panese cham­pion Daisuke Taka­hashi slip­ping to sec­ond af­ter the long pro­gram, all it would have take was a clean skate by Weir to win the Skate Canada men’s ti­tle.

“It’s hard . . . I could have won but it was stress­ful and I was just try­ing to make it through . . . I was try­ing to pull things out of my butt out there to­day,” said Weir, who tired no­tice­ably near the end of his long pro­gram.

“I came from the Olympics [Turin] to the world cham­pi­onships [Cal­gary] and then went right into the Cham­pi­ons on Ice Tour all sum­mer,” added Weir, who was also sec­ond af­ter the Olympic short pro­gram be­fore fin­ish­ing fifth in Turin.

“It’s not like I’ve been sit­ting around in a shorty bathrobe drink­ing Mai Tais. And you never get used to skat­ing last. You get the jit­ters. But there are no ex­cuses.”

Lam­biel fin­ished at 210.70 points, Taka­hashi sec­ond at 208.21, Weir third at 198.70 and Olympian Shawn Sawyer of Ed­mund­ston, N.B., fourth with 195.17. The other Cana­di­ans, Vaughn Chipeur and Marc An­dre Craig, were sev­enth and eighth.

Cana­dian skater Vaughn Chipeur per­forms one of his spins dur­ing the men’s free skate com­pe­ti­tion at Save-On-Foods Me­mo­rial Cen­tre last night.Chipeur fin­ished up in sev­enth place over­all.

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