Lysacek joins cast of "Dancing with the Stars"

Olympic champion is getting ready to Rhumba

Evan Lysacek faces tough competition in the "Best U.S. Male Olympic Athlete" category.
Evan Lysacek faces tough competition in the "Best U.S. Male Olympic Athlete" category. (Getty Images)


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By Amy Rosewater, special to
(03/01/2010) - Evan Lysacek is getting ready to Rhumba.

The newly crowned Olympic figure skating gold medalist confirmed to that he will be vying for his next title, the Mirror Ball trophy, as a competitor on Dancing With The Stars, which begins March 22 on ABC. He hopes to follow in the footsteps, er skates, of other Olympic champions such as Apolo Anton Ohno and fellow figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi to the TV crown.

Melissa Rycroft and Tom Bergeron announced the new cast for Dancing With The Stars Monday during ABC's telecast of The Bachelor.

"I am so excited,'' Lysacek said. "I watched Apolo do it and I went to about five or six tapings when Kristi was on the show. I was looking for my next challenge after the Olympics and I think this will be great.

"I'm getting really nervous right now because I'm not that good of a dancer and people expect me to be because I am a figure skater.''

Not long after Lysacek defeated Russian favorite Evgeni Plushenko for the Olympic men's title in Vancouver, two-time Dancing With The Stars champion, professional dancer Cheryl Burke, posted a message on Twitter suggesting that Lysacek be a part of the show's cast. Burke won the show's title with 98 Degrees member Drew Lachey and with retired NFL star Emmitt Smith.

Lysacek, 24, will have a delicate balancing act on the dance floor but he is not giving up his day job as a skater, either. In fact, he will continue to perform most of the dates on the Smucker's Stars on Ice schedule.

He has to be in Los Angeles on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays for rehearsals and for Dancing With The Stars broadcasts. The good news is when he is taping the show he can sleep in his own bed. He lives about five minutes from the studio.

Lysacek will take red-eye flights to tour dates for shows on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The 41-date Smucker's Stars on Ice tour begins April 1 in Fort Myers, Fla., and concludes May 30 in Portland, Ore. In addition to Lysacek, the tour includes Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen and Olympic silver medalist ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.

"I felt it was still important to see my fans and to skate,'' said Lysacek, the first American men's Olympic figure skating gold medalist since Brian Boitano won in 1988. "And the show is such a great platform to promote the sport.''

The biggest challenge for Lysacek will be learning how to dance.

"I know nothing,'' he said. "I don't even know some of the names of the dances.''

He is looking forward to working with the production staff, some of which he has met already, as well as being fitted for various costumes. As a skater, Lysacek is already accustomed to wearing different designs and he has even worked with Vera Wang. At the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Lysacek wore a black outfit with feathers for a routine to "Firebird,'' and his free skate outfit featured two snakes.

"They actually let you have some of your own input,'' Lysacek said of the show's wardrobing department.

"But I have to do a good job first,'' he added. "I feel like there will be an expectation. Kristi and Apolo are both skaters and they both did so good. And it will be a big adjustment for me. Skating is such an individual sport, at least in singles skating. So it will be new to work with a partner.

One advantage Lysacek will have as a dancer that has been considered an obstacle for him as a skater is his height. The 6-foot-2 skater laughed when his height was mentioned. "It's funny because you'd think that but everyone (in dance) is so short,'' he said. "The good thing the show might do is silence some of the critics who say I'm really robotic.''

Lysacek is used to performing in front of judges and worldwide TV audiences, having competed in two Olympics and having captured the world title last year in Los Angeles. In Dancing With The Stars, he'll have to impress fans, who also cast their vote for the winners.

And he's hoping he can count on his friends in the figure skating world to help bolster his vote tally. He should also have fans at the taping of some of his shows as well. He trains with U.S. Olympian Mirai Nagasu in Los Angeles. His longtime coach, Frank Carroll, might swing by, too.

"I hope that he'll be able to come and watch it,'' Lysacek said. "I'm just looking forward to all of it.''