Deadlock Results In Lysacek Victory

Johnny Weir, left, was stuck looking at a disappointing silver medal after an absolute tie resulted in Evan Lysacek, right, taking home the gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minn. on Sunday.
Johnny Weir, left, was stuck looking at a disappointing silver medal after an absolute tie resulted in Evan Lysacek, right, taking home the gold at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Paul, Minn. on Sunday. (Eric Miller - Reuters)

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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 28, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 27 -- The only thing this competition did was give Evan Lysacek his second straight national title. It brought no clarity. It ended no arguments, settled no debates, shattered no allegiances. At the conclusion of what had been an emotional, dramatic, suffocating contest, Lysacek and Johnny Weir remarkably finished in a dead heat down to the hundredth of a point at the end of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday.

They each scored 244.77 points in the short and long programs.

The sport's rule book gave Lysacek the title because he outscored Weir by 1.35 points in Sunday's deciding long program. Weir had won the short by the same margin.

The unimagined ending to their animated fight left both men stunned and puzzled. When the standings appeared on the Xcel Energy Center's JumboTron scoreboard, Weir stared with a wrinkled forehead and his palms upraised. Lysacek, meantime, looked in disbelief at the television reporter who gave him the news.

"We got the same points exactly?" Weir said. "No way."

Nobody else came close to the two men who have combined to win five straight U.S. titles. Third-place finisher Stephen Carriere, last year's world junior champion, collected 228.06 points. Jeremy Abbott, in fourth, earned 221.85. A trio of locals, meantime, performed capably: Annandale's Tommy Steenberg moved from 12th to ninth place, finishing with 195.32 points. His training mate at Fairfax Ice Arena, Parker Pennington of George Mason University, finished 11th (188.82) and Derrick Delmore of Fort Washington claimed 15th (180.83).

These championships, however, were really about settling the issue of the best male figure skater in the United States.

It just never happened.

"If you were scripting this whole deal, you probably couldn't have done any better job than this," Lysacek said.

The script featured two men whose similarity started and ended with their results Sunday. The Chicago-born Lysacek is known for his traditional pant-and-shirt costumes and the edgy, heart-pounding drama in his skating. Weir, on the other hand, is known for his extravagance and eccentricity -- today's costume plunged off one shoulder, had a low back and, in Weir's words, was a "sparkly onesie." He is more elegant and lyrical than Lysacek, but often reluctant to pull out his quadruple jump.

Sunday, however, proved an exception. Both he and Lysacek attempted quads, and remained standing. Both, however, two-footed the landings. Both made a host of tiny mistakes or wobbles or misjudgments that created room for plenty of "what ifs?" What if Weir had not dropped two planned double jumps in combination, or simply tacked one on to his quad attempt? What if Lysacek had not looked shaky on a handful of his landings? What if Weir had executed a better upright spin?

"I watched Evan and I watched Johnny," Lysacek's coach, Frank Carroll, said. "I thought Johnny was terribly straight, accurate and beautiful to watch, and I thought Evan was very exciting and dramatic. It just boils down to what you like: pie, or cake. . . . They are both just great skaters."


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