Everywhere Jeff Buttle goes since winning the world figure skating championships last month, people recognize him, tip their hats to him and even thank him.
"It's overwhelming," he said yesterday. "But it's cool."
It's an experience far removed from the times Buttle won a world silver medal (2005) and an Olympic bronze medal (2006).
"I thought everyone watched the Olympics, and after the Olympics, this is the most people are going to recognize you in grocery stores," Buttle said. "But after the worlds, it was so much more than I had anticipated, from people on the street who don't really know about skating, but who still knew I won the world championships."
A case in point: Buttle and his choreographer David Wilson, who has also just had his first world-championship win, were sauntering down Yonge Street in Toronto when a young man driving by slowed down, rolled down his car window and yelled: "Hey, Byootle! Byootle! Good job at the world championships, man!"
On Thursday, Buttle found himself back at the Mariposa skating club in Barrie for the first time since he won the world title. He's been too busy to set foot at Mother Mariposa in the past month.
Since the world championships, he's made a string of television media appearances and even played himself on an Air Farce Live TV skit entitled Buttlemania.
For that, he donned his red free-skate costume (gold medal around his neck), wheeled onto the set on inline skates, delivered some political quips and earned a standing ovation from the live audience.
While the appearance was his acting debut, Buttle, typically humble, says it was probably his finale as well.
He has also skated in four stops of the Canadian Stars on Ice tour, including last night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. At the opening show in Halifax, Buttle got a standing ovation from the audience before he even started skating. "It was very intense," he said.
He has also appeared on CBC's The Hour and attended the Juno Awards ceremony.
"It's all been kind of crazy," he said. "I didn't think skating was as well-known as it apparently is."
But don't expect Buttle to dive into the appearance or show circuit with a vengeance. "I've always been a little bit cautious about how much I put on my plate," he said with an eye on the Vancouver Olympics two years from now. "After the worlds there was quite a lot that I wasn't expecting," he said.
In the past month, he had two new programs designed for the tour, and barely had them finished when he caught the flu. He's still feeling the residual effects of the bug.
The opportunities, however, are still arising. Agent David Baden says Buttle is still associated with VISA, Bell and Rona and other deals are in the works.
And he's been invited to two International Management Group skating shows in Korea and a string of four shows in Japan, called Mao Asada and Friends.
Finally, he'll make his first World Vision tour in August in South America, although the details of which country he will visit haven't been sorted out.
Buttle's exuberance at the end of his flawless free skate in Gothenburg, Sweden, where he slapped the ice with both hands and screamed, is a classic. He said that he had always dreamed of such moments.
"It's so weird when you're a kid, this is what you dream about," he said. "And to accomplish it definitely feels like a dream come true."