Monday, 16/7/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Local Boy Lysacek Leaps to World Title

“I wasn’t thinking about winning, and I wasn’t thinking about medaling,” the new World Champion Evan Lysacek commented after Thursday’s free skate. “I just wanted to skate well for my hometown crowd. ”

“I was looking forward to this whole event and was nervous for it since I found out it was coming to the Staples Center and my home and my training town,” he added. “I knew it was going to be special skating in this building. This is an electric building, and the people of Los Angeles have been so supportive of me and my skating. I just wanted to give them a good performance.”

Entering the free program in second place, Lysacek blew the roof off the house when he produced a emotionally-packed free skate that was so superb — the roar from the audience was deafening.

The two-time World bronze medalist (2005, 2006) powered out eight triple jumps which included two triple Axels, two Lutz’s, a toe, a Salchow, a loop and a flip — all done remarkably well. However, his quad jump, usually a quad toe — was missing in action.

Lysacek understands the importance of the quad in competition; however, the 23-year-old was diagnosed two weeks ago with a stress fracture in his left foot – limiting the types and the repetitions of the jumps.

“The last few weeks we had to take a look at the program and examine every place I could gain points,” the National bronze medalist explained. “I had to limit my training, which was really good because I have a tendency to over train. So I worked with my coach (Frank Carroll) and my choreographer (Lori Nichol) very closely and focused on other aspects of the program.”

Lysacek’s free program score of 159.53 points was a new personal best for the Champion. He skated to “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin. The American seemed emotionally spent at the end of his 41/2 minute free skate.

“There was a moment in the footwork that I had a weird look of shock on my face because I had imagined it in exactly the same way. For it to happen the way you imagine it almost perfectly. I had to pinch myself in the middle of my program. From that point on, I just had to bleed everything that I had out to the crowd, and they were so supportive. I will never forget this performance for the rest of my life.”

The Four Continents silver medalist talked briefly about the importance of these championships.

“My goal here first and foremost was for the team to get three spots in (next year’s) Olympics,” the American added. “I don’t want to go to Vancouver as an individual; I want to go as a proud member of TEAM USA.”

Last month Lysacek faced off against Canadian star Patrick Chan in the test event for next year’s Olympic Games. In that event Chan bested the American and took the title after producing two mesmerizing performances in Vancouver.

Chan, Canada’s number one man also had a top-notch free skate. His only errors came when the 18-year-old eeked out only a single on the back end of a planned triple Axel/double toe combination and doubled a planned triple loop later in the program.

“Last night in bed, I could not sleep thinking about the possibilities,” Chan stated. “Like what would happen if I fell on my triple Axel. I was so busy thinking about what could happen. You could see a big relief on my face when I finished. To have skated so well today, I am so happy and relieved.”

Despite the mistake Chan’s program sang to the music. His footwork and spins were sensational and the quality of his stroking is awe-inspiring.

Skating to the music of Rachmaninoff the Canadian delivered seven clean triple jumps in comparison to Lysacek’s eight. The program was void of the triple loop. He performed three combinations, a triple flip/triple toe, a triple Axel/single toe and a triple Lutz/double toe/double loop.

The Canadian’s straight line step sequence was so strong it earned the two-time National Champion +2 Grades of Execution (GOE’s.)

Patrick was quite complementary of the American in regard to his win, and in a post event press conference he told journalists: “Evan has been in it so long, I remember being in juniors when he won the bronze at the World Championships. It sucks having not had won gold so many times. He deserves it the most. He works so hard and is the nicest guy ever.”

On the other hand, the Canadian also had a few words for his biggest critic – 2007 World Champion Brian Joubert:

“This is the second year in a row that the World Champion has won without a quad, so no, you don’t need a quad. If you lay down a perfect program with spins and with footwork you don’t need it. It is the rest of the package, and he (Joubert) was lacking in that.”

The Skate Canada Champion did not seem disappointed with his silver medal and his free skate score of 155.03 points. His event total was 237.58 points – about twelve points below his best he achieved last month in Vancouver.

“If I came away here with the gold medal I would be overwhelmed,” Patrick admitted. “This will help for next year, and it won’t be that bad. I’m slowly progressing as a skater, and I’m getting better and better as we move forward towards the Olympic Games.”

In a post event press conference, the youngster gave his view on his preparation going into the Olympic season.

“It’s hard to think about that right now because the season just ended. It try to think day-to-day. I try to use the same approach – to have fun and take everything as a teenager because I am a teenager. A lot of these guys take it so seriously they are tearing at their hair. But hey, this beats going to school for me! I don’t have to sit in class. Another thing is to be calm. I have a tendency to get overexcited, but I’m happy with the way I composed myself (today) and stayed calm.”

Joubert took the biggest hit of the night when he fell to third after messing up his triple Axel and going splat on a double Axel.

After a stunning opening to his program with a huge quad toe and a triple Axel/triple toe combination the Frenchmen began to alter his program. Wanting to remove his second planned quad – the quad Salchow, the 2008 World silver medalist adjusted his elements which threw him off kilter.

“I made a big mistake—I changed my program before I came on the ice,” the Frenchmen admitted. “I didn’t do two quads and I was a little lost on the ice. I learned a lot from this, though. Tomorrow is another day, and I am focused on the Olympics.”

He replaced the quad with a gorgeous triple Axel/triple toe combination, but then went hands down on the triple Axel that followed. He managed four additional triples before falling on a double Axel – a jump Joubert can do in his sleep. His spins and his footwork earned level three except for the final flying sit spin for which he was awarded a mere level one.

The three-time European Champion (2009, 2007, and 2004) pocketed 151.57 points for his free skate and finished the event in third place overall with 235.97 points.

“I felt strong at the beginning of the program. After the first two jumps, I thought I’d skate clean,” the 24-year-old commented. “The error on the second triple Axel cost me concentration and threw me off. I paid for beginning of the season with lack of practice and equipment problems. But I know I could have done better. I was ready to get the gold medal. I can’t complain about the placement, I’m third, that’s ok. Obviously, I’m very disappointed. I have to take something from this defeat for the Olympic year. The goal is to attack a 100 percent starting with September.”

Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic had a very strong opening to his Astor Piazzola program. The 2008 European Champion opened with a textbook quad toe/triple toe combination and followed with five clean triple jumps. He popped the back-end of a planned triple Axel triple toe and later turned a planned triple Lutz combination to a double Lutz/ double toe combination and turned his final jump (flip) into a double as well.

He placed fourth in the free skate with 151.35 points and fourth with a total score of 231.71 points.

“I’m too angry to talk right now. I had it in my hands till the end, and I missed the easiest jumps ever. I don’t know how to punish myself,” Verner told the press. “They were stupid mistakes. My performance was okay. I enjoyed the crowd. I was close to being happy, but I’m not anymore. These two guys over there (Lysacek and Joubert) are in really good shape. I don’t wish anyone bad luck. Fourth place in the World is not bad. But I’ve already been top four. I want a medal.”

Samuel Contesti of Italy pulled up and finished fifth with 148.47 points for his free skate and 226.97 points overall – a new personal best.

The 2009 European silver medalist lit up the crowd with his rendition of “Once Upon a time in the West” and “Cotton Eye Joe.” The Italian nailed his opening triple Axel, then followed with a triple Lutz and a triple flip, two solid spins (level four) and a circular step sequence that was called level three. He left his three combinations for the second half of the program gaining a 10% bonus for those elements. He had a turnout between the jumps in his triple Axel/triple toe combination but the triple Salchow/double toe was clean as was the double Axel/double toe that followed.

“I am very happy with my performance of course. I was very stressed when I stepped on the ice, but I did my job, and it was a good program,” Contesti shared. “I wear my jacket until the very last moment because it keeps me warm and away from any kind of distraction. It’s part of my concentration process. I’m thrilled tonight because Italy now has 2 spots for the Olympic Games in the Men’s category.”

The two Japanese men finished sixth and seventh overall, barely earning Japan three spots for next year’s Olympic Games. With 2007 World silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi hopefully returning next season, it could have spelled disaster for one of the men next season.

Probably, the most understated of the two Japanese — Takahiko Kozuka has had a stellar season, thus far. Finishing first at Skate America and second at Trophee Bompard, the Grand Prix Final and Four Continents the 20-year-old appeared smooth in his performance to “Romeo and Juliet” by Nino Rota. He finished seventh in his free skate after he struggled on his first triple Axel and received a downgrade on the final jump of his planned triple Salchow/double toe/double loop combination.

The youngster fell short of his personal best earning 142.83 points for his free skate and ended with an event total of 222.18 points.

“I’m happy to perform well to secure three places for Japan, but it’s not just my own effort, it’s all three of our combined effort,” the Japanese silver medalist stated. “It’s a great experience to be at the World Championships. I was a little bit nervous about the triple axel, but the (triple) flip, which I was more nervous about,came out well. This still doesn’t mean that I’ll be going to the Olympics. So, I want to be practicing to make sure that I place within the bracket for the Olympics. I refrained from doing the quadruple to be safe and replaced with the double Axel.”

Fellow teammate Nobunari Oda has yet to learn how to follow the rules. This is not the first time the Japanese has had an element earn zero points. In 2005, at the Japanese Championships, the 22-year-old was declared the National Champion only to have the results reversed within the hour because of an illegal element. The error dropped him to second place, and he won the silver medal.

In 2006, he made the same error and it cost him a World bronze medal. The issue is this, Nobunari opened with a superb quad toe/triple toe combination and later he performed a triple Salchow/triple toe combination When he repeated the triple Axel it was counted as a sequence.

Therefore, his triple flip/ double toe/double loop combination, although clean, was declared illegal — as it was the fourth combination or sequence. The rules clearly limit combinations/sequences to three.

That cost the reigning National Champion plenty. Had Oda completed a solo triple flip he would have earned 5.5 points base value. Since the jumps were well-done he would have received positive GOE’s. Plus the 10% bonus for it being in the last half of the program. This error cost him at least one placement in the final standings, if not two.

“I was very focused on doing the quad, and when I landed it I was very happy, I was crying,” Oda admitted. “It was my first time in competition. I was fully focused, but I didn’t know if I was going to do it or not. “I was concentrating so much on the quad that I forgot about the combination. I know I lost points because of this.”

Oda accrued 141.67 points for his free skate and an event total of 218.16 points.

Rising star Dennis Ten, of Kazakhstan, dazzled the crowd with a performance that in some years could have won a World Title. The 15-year-old from Almaty, currently lives and trains in Moscow under coach Elena Buianova.

The fourth place finisher at last month’s World Junior Championships showed no visible signs of having difficulties with triple jumps. Except for a takeoff on the wrong edge on a triple flip, the teen produced seven additional clean triple including a total of three combinations and two triple Axels.

” It was a big joy. Yesterday my coaches were disappointed with my score, and today I felt that I had to prove with my skating that I deserve a high score,” the teen stated. “I wanted to show everything I’m capable of. It was the best performance of my life, so far. Now I have to build from there and to continue to develop. Hopefully, I’ll be the first skater from Kazakhstan to qualify for the Olympic Games.“

The youngster blew away his personal best score by over nineteen points placing sixth in the free skate (with 142.89 points) and finished the competition in eighth place with 211.43 points.

“When the audience stood up, it was like a positive shock,” he said with tears in his eyes. “Yesterday, when Evan skated clean and got a standing ovation, I also was watching, and I stood up and I thought how nice it was to skate well and to get a standing ovation. So today I’m just very happy that the crowd stood up for me. I was able to experience something at my young age that many skaters never experience in their career.”

Eighteen-year-old Brandon Mroz proved he can play with the big boys and finished ninth overall with 207.19 points. He bested his training mate Jeremy Abbott by over 21/2 points. Mroz (9) and Lysacek (1) earned a total score of ten points to qualify three spots for the American’s in next season’s Olympic Games. The points for the top two placements must total thirteen or less in order to earn the maximum of three spots.

“I felt good. Getting through the quad, I had a little step,” 18-year-old Mroz admitted. “I was just pushing through the expectations of the year. I learned what’s in me, and what I can do, with the expectations of who I’ve been competing against on the Grand Prix tour and at Nationals. Everybody gets better from knowledge, and I can only take it and apply it to next season in the Olympic year. I think this year will better me for next year.”

Andrew Lutai of Russia finished tenth overall with 204.99 points.

Grand Prix Champion Jeremy Abbott crumbled under the pressure finishing eleventh overall with 204.67 points. His free skate ranked only tenth with 132.52 points after the American stepped out of a triple Axel and had a wobbly landing on the second. He also under-rotated a triple Lutz on a planned triple Lutz/triple toe/ double toe combination and singled the first Axel of a planned double Axel + double Axel sequence.

“I didn’t expect myself to be in this position. I had a rough time,” Abbott said with disappointment “My program wasn’t bad. I gave my full heart. I really felt much more myself today than I did yesterday. I felt confident and ready to deliver a great performance to do a big pull. There’s always that twinge of doubt with every competition that maybe it won’t happen and maybe that’s where those little mistakes came from. I really didn’t feel that the mistakes that I made were really great enough to justify my scores.”

Canadian silver medalist Vaughn Chipeur finished twelfth with 202.08 points. The placement cost Canada one spot in Vancouver as Chan’s second placement in the Championship and Chipeur’s twelfth exceed the magic number of thirteen.

The 24-year-old fought through his program but the mistakes were just too costly. Vaughn doubled the back-end of a planned triple Lutz/triple toe combination had a touchdown on the triple Axel/double toe combination, two-footed a triple loop and struggled on the landing of the triple Lutz.

“It was a good fight through the long program,” Chipeur explainedl. “Things were a little off but nothing major. I left a few points on the table, but it’s my first Worlds and it’s a good learning experience for me, and now, I know exactly how things are. This is a huge confidence boost for me. I came here and I had goals. I didn’t quite acheive them exactly how I wanted to. But overall I am pleased with how I skated.”

Competing in his first World Championships, Canada’s bronze medalist Jeremy Ten finished seventeenth overall after the teen executed a strong free skate and placed eleventh in that segment.

“It’s not over ’til it’s over. I don’t think anything could prepare me for this,” the 20-year-old stated. “Watching Evan (Lysacek), Brian (Joubert) on practice was amazing! I’m just really grateful that the judges gave me the opportunity to perform this long program. I love this long program. I needed to trust my practices, my training and my whole year and attack it. My goal was to turn some heads and believe I did that. I’m happy to end this experience on a high note.”

The event will continue tomorrow with the ladies short program.

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