Hot Topic Figure Skating

From Vancouver to 'Dancing' to 'Stars on Ice,' Evan Lysacek doesn't want to slow down

After winning the figure skating gold medal in Vancouver, Evan Lysacek went right back to work training for
After winning the figure skating gold medal in Vancouver, Evan Lysacek went right back to work training for "Dancing with the Stars" and the "Stars on Ice" skating tour. (Mark Baker/associated Press)
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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010

The journey to the Olympic Games was a long one for Evan Lysacek. Eleven months before he became the first U.S. man to win an Olympic figure skating gold medal in 22 years, he won a world title. He carried the burden of significant expectations into the Winter Games.

Yet he has not taken a single day off since his historic victory.

In Los Angeles earlier this week to participate in this season's ABC hit "Dancing with the Stars," Lysacek was scheduled to arrive in Washington on Wednesday and take the ice Thursday night at the Verizon Center as part of his commitment to the "Stars on Ice" figure-skating champions tour. He is slated to do 26 of the 41 shows--the most he could fit around his "Dancing" schedule.

One might think Lysacek would be drained. But he insists he's not.

"I don't want a day off," Lysacek said by phone from Orlando, where he participated in his third "Stars On Ice" show. "I love to work."

After returning from the Vancouver Winter Games, Lysacek went straight from the airport to a dance studio in Los Angeles without so much as dropping his luggage at home. His days are completely filled. Before the "Stars on Ice" tour kicked off last week, he spent most of his days training for "Dancing with the Stars," but also rented ice time at his home rink from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. for figure skating practices.

He arrived in Florida last Wednesday night determined to keep up his Dancing preparations -- he brought his Dancing partner Anna Trebunskaya -- while being the headline act for ice shows in Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

That meant five- to seven-hour rehearsals beginning at 7 a.m. with Trebunskaya, followed by 3 p.m. bus rides to the ice rink for the night's "Stars on Ice" shows. His nightly goal: Lights out by 2:30 a.m. On Sunday, he flew back to Los Angeles.

"We were on the same plane from L.A. to Florida," said Mirai Nagasu, who trains at Lysacek's home rink in Los Angeles and finished fourth in the women's Olympic figure skating competition. "He was knocked out the whole time. He was totally unconscious. I think he's drinking a lot of coffee to stay energized."

The only thing he could not squeeze into his schedule: competing at the March 22-28 world championships in Turin, Italy. The irony of it is that he was in good enough shape to win for the second straight year.

Sliding into the dance world, however, was not as seamless as Lysacek or anyone else expected. The first week on the Dancing set was, he said, downright frustrating.

"Even I bought into the media hype that said dancing was like skating, so I'd be good at it right off the bat," Lysacek said. "The first week, I was honestly a little discouraged. I started to think I was worse than the rest of the cast."

Lysacek never imagined how difficult some of the challenges would be. When introduced to the Viennese Waltz, Lysacek found himself all but falling over while attempting the constant turns and spins.

"I'm so used to turning only in one direction, and my entire Viennese Waltz is turning in the other direction," Lysacek said. "Of all people, I was getting dizzy."

The "Stars On Ice" tour, meantime, has provided the comfort of a warm blanket while letting him revel, a bit, in his Olympic gold.

"I love it," he said. "I feel at home doing it; it's so therapeutic. I love being on this tour and being able to reach so many people."

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