Evan Lysacek claims Olympic gold in figure skating for US
He becomes the first U.S. man to win an Olympic title since Brian Boitano in 1988.
He is tall, angular, often dressed in black, always concerned about having everything about his life in order.
But in the end, the artistic figure skating prowess didn’t win because of his artistry. Evan Lysacek, without a quadruple jump, laying down a passionate, difficult, nearly perfect program to pass Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko.
It wasn’t that Plushenko, the defending Olympic champion, imploded. Far from it. In addition to his quad, he landed all seven of his triple jumps, completed all his spins, stayed on his feet, mugged and preened for the judges, and showed the supreme confidence that borders on arrogance–which is his trademark. “I was positive that I won,” he said afterward. “It’s always difficult to skate last, but it was not a bad skate.” Nor was it that the judges docked Plushenko for his lack of artistry, a subject that had been roundly debated the first week of the Games. The fact is, both Lysacek and the Russian scored exactly 82.80 in program component scores — the five marks that reflect a skater’s artistic merit.
No, Plushenko lost in his bid to become the first man since Dick Button (‘48, ‘52) to repeat as Olympic champion, because Lysacek, who had skated confidently all week, wrested the gold away from him. The first of the final six to skate, the 24-year-old Lysacek, who grew up in Naperville, Illinois, landed eight triple jumps while exhibiting the sort of showy footwork, fast spins, and crackling energy and emotion that make him a complete package. The judges rewarded him with a score of 167.37 points, the highest mark given out this year for a free skate. It made Lysacek’s remarks after his Wednesday practice look uncannily prescient. Asked what it would take to catch Plushenko, who led him by .55 after the short program: “He has one major advantage over everyone, and that’s the Olympic gold medal. He has the power mentally because he has what we all want. And so I think it’s going to take some mighty fine skating to get that power away from him.”
Lysacek had done his part. “That was my best free program of the season,” he said later. “I was ecstatic. To do your best when it counts the most….” When eventual bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi, Japan’s first men’s medalist in figure skating, fell on his opening quadruple toe loop, and fellow American Johnny Weir skated a lukewarm, if not clean, sixth-place free skate, it left only Plushenko between Lysacek and the gold.