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Lysacek, Hughes and Lipinski ring Closing Bell

Olympic champions commemorate 1961 team and celebrate RISE

Sarah Hughes, Tara Lipinksi and Evan Lysacek take center stage on Wall Street.
Sarah Hughes, Tara Lipinksi and Evan Lysacek take center stage on Wall Street. (courtesy Sarah Hughes)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(02/16/2011) - A lot has happened to Evan Lysacek since he won Olympic gold in Vancouver a year ago, but ringing The Closing Bell of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Tuesday stands out.

"I've done a lot of great, cool things this year but this is exciting," the 25-year-old said. "I'm a CNBC junkie - watching it relaxes me -- so I'm thrilled. I've seen the Wall Street movies, both of them."

Lysacek and fellow Olympic champions Tara Lipinski (1998) and Sarah Hughes (2002) were on hand to honor the 50th anniversary of the crash of Sabena Flight 548 carrying the U.S. team to the 1961 World Figure Skating Championships in Prague. Their appearance also celebrates the premiere of the cinematic feature RISE, which remembers the 1961 team while telling the story of the rebirth of U.S. figure skating.

"Obviously it's an honor to be here," he said. "It's a big day in our sport when you get three gold medalists in one room."

In ringing the NYSE bell -- which is done twice daily, to open and close the market -- the skaters join a fraternity ranging from titans of industry, to the Snookie and the gang from MTV's Jersey Shore.

"We have visitors ring the bell just about every day," said Annmarie Gioia of NYSE media relations. "Usually, they're here to mark some kind of milestone for a listed company, like a new stock offering or product launch [MTV's parent company, Viacom, is listed on the NYSE.]

"Of course we're also happy to honor special events, like RISE, which is [associated] with U.S. Figure Skating's Memorial Fund."

Lysacek also traveled to the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Greensboro, N.C., to film an ensemble number with newly crowned U.S. champions and young local skaters that will be shown at the premiere.

"I saw the film at home with some friends and it was very emotional for me," he said. "It took me seeing it to fully understand how I fit into the storyline.

"The best part of my involvement [with RISE] was learning things about my coach, Frank Carroll's, life that I never knew before. He will be here for the premiere, which I'm very happy about."

Carroll, a onetime U.S. junior men's silver medalist, was coached by nine-time U.S. champion Maribel Vinson Owen, who perished in the crash along with her two daughters, also U.S. champions.

"Watching RISE, I saw that in a way Frank assumed Maribel's role as a coach and I assumed Frank's role as a student," Lysacek said.

Seeing 27-year-old Ryan Bradley win the U.S. title in Greensboro did nothing to quell the Olympic champion's thoughts of a possible competitive return.

"I'm staying in good shape," he said. "I'm practicing whenever I can and exercising. I have the Smucker's U.S. Stars on Ice tour, starting in San Jose on Friday, and then the SOI Canadian tour. After that I will seriously consider all of my options."

This was Hughes' second time ringing the NYSE bell; she rang the opening bell in 2002, fresh off her win at the Salt Lake City Games.

"It was a lot different back then," she said. "I was talking to some traders and about four years ago, they computerized everything."

Unlike Lysacek, Hughes hasn't seen RISEyet.

"I've been waiting, so I can watch it with everyone else," she said.

This was Lipinski's second visit to the NYSE.

"I was here once, ten years ago or so," she said. "It's awesome.

"I've only seen bits and pieces of RISE. I'm excited to go to the premiere; I don't think U.S. Figure Skating has ever had such a big event."

Lipinski was in Greensboro providing commentary on the U.S. Championships for Universal Sports. She will also work for Universal covering the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships in March.

"It was a great event; the year after the Olympics is usually a little slow, but this season there were some exciting new faces," she said. "Definitely the men's event was a surprise. I'm not sure anyone could have predicted it. I think the whole U.S. team will do well at worlds."

The 28-year-old Lipinski, who performed with Stars on Ice for four seasons following her Olympic victory, is considering a return to the ice.

"We'll see what happens," she said. "I'm open to the idea [of shows]. Being on the ice again is a lot of fun. I'm even jumping a little bit. I'm getting back into shape and taking things one day at a time."