Abbott crushes senior men's field in Spokane

Lysacek second, Weir third; all named to Olympic team

Silver medalist Evan Lysacek (left), national champion Jeremy Abbott (middle) and bronze medalist Johnny Weir (right) are the U.S. men's team at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Silver medalist Evan Lysacek (left), national champion Jeremy Abbott (middle) and bronze medalist Johnny Weir (right) are the U.S. men's team at the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(01/17/2010) - Riding a wave of confidence, Jeremy Abbott outclassed the competition in Spokane, winning his second consecutive U.S. title by more than 25 points.

Evan Lysacek was second with 238.63, with Johnny Weir third at 232.09. U.S. Figure Skating nominated the three athletes to its Olympic and world teams.

All week long, Abbott downplayed his desire to defend the championship he won last season, saying making the Vancouver Olympic team was his main concern.

"My goal was to be on the team and continue to peak at the right time and improve each of my performances," Abbott said. "Winning is just icing on the cake."

That kind of thinking must have helped alleviate pressure. His performance today was anything but safe; his program, choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo to Saint-Saens' Symphony no. 3, had it all -- masterful steps and transitions, crisp spins and a gorgeous opening quadruple toe loop, followed a few moves later by a solid triple Axel, triple toe combination.

"When I hit the quad it was just business as usual," Abbott said. "I still had seven jumping passes and eight triples left. No way could I celebrate at that point."

The 24-year-old Abbott, who trained under Tom Zakrajsek in Colorado Springs for 10 years, moved to Detroit last spring to be coached by 1994 World champion Yuka Sato and her husband, two-time U.S. pairs champion Jason Dungjen.

"When you make huge changes there's always risk involved," he said. "There's always doubt when it come to making big moves, but deep down in my heart it felt right. I'm very happy with the decision I made and the lifestyle change I made."

Skating to Scheherezade, Lysacek fell on an opening quad attempt and was unable to regain momentum. Although his step sequences had their usual verve, he had to fight for the landing of a triple Axel, double toe combination and doubled an intended triple loop.

"I made several schedules to my free skate and I was glad to have the opportunity to try it out," Lysacek said. "Not everything went the way I want it to obviously. Some things did go the way I wanted them to. I have a lot of work to do."

Both Lysacek and his coach, Frank Carroll, defended the skater's decision to try a quad, saying he will need it in Vancouver.

"He can do the quad, why shouldn't he have tried it?" Carroll said. "This morning he did one in practice. He did it today in the warm-up. You know Abbott will do it and he did, and he scored through the roof.

"[Evan] is going to have to up the ante in this program. The program looked labored after the fall on the quad. The triple loop, he never misses it, ever."

Weir had the fur-trimmed costume, the entourage and the film crew -- here to film his Sundance documentary series, Be Good Johnny Weir -- but lacked the technical mettle to challenge for gold.

The three-time U.S. champion (2002-2004) hit a solid triple Axel, double toe, but popped a second Axel into a single and turned out of the landing of a triple Lutz, triple toe.

"I have very mixed feelings about my performance tonight," said Weir. "There were lots of things I could be proud of and of course some mistakes that I wish hadn't happened. I suppose I am saving that perfect, clean, amazing performance for a certain time that may or not be coming up."

Showman Ryan Bradley brought the crowd roaring to its feet with his brilliant comedic take on Beethoven, including two quadruple toe loops, but a disappointing short program took him out of the Vancouver equation. He placed second in the free and fourth overall with 225.97 points.