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Lysacek Q&A: My mind is '1,000 percent made up'

Reigning Olympic gold medalist dishes on Summer Olympics, his coaching team and the quad

Evan Lysacek enjoyed his time away, but his love of training pulled him back to the ice.
Evan Lysacek enjoyed his time away, but his love of training pulled him back to the ice. (Mickey Brown)

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By Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(08/10/2012) - As the world has turned its attention to summer sports, with the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and Gabby Douglas making headlines, a winter sports Olympic champion made an announcement in London about none other than ice skating.

Evan Lysacek, who won the Olympic gold medal in Vancouver in 2010, announced that he will compete at 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America, the opening event in the 2012 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. Skate America will take place Oct. 19-21 at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., outside Seattle. In an interview Friday morning on NBC's Today show, he also confirmed his desire to compete at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Lysacek, 27, has not competed in skating since upsetting Evgeni Plushenko for the Olympic crown almost 2 1/2 years ago. Since then, he has been a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, making it to the finals with partner Anna Trebunskaya; was named a sports envoy by the U.S. Department of State; and even threw out the first pitch at a Los Angeles Dodgers game.

Lysacek, who made his Olympic plans public last fall when he spoke at the U.S. Olympic Committee's Olympic and Paralympic Assembly dinner in Colorado Springs, Colo., chatted with icenetwork.com in an interview from -- where else? -- London.

Icenetwork.com: How much have these Olympic Games in London energized you about your decision to compete in Sochi?

Lysacek: Well, my mind was already made about a year ago, but I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't inspired by what I've seen in London. If my mind wasn't made up before, it is 1,000 percent made up now.

Icenetwork.com: What events from these Games have captured your attention most?

Lysacek: Oh, wow. There have been so many stories. It's been really incredible to see the dominance of Kerri Walsh [Jennings] and Misty May[-Treanor]. The gymnastics competition at the start of the Games, with Jordyn Wieber and her disappointment of not making the all-around and then really holding her head up high and leading the team to the gold medal -- that was really inspiring. I'm a big tennis fan, so it was great to see Serena win. I love Roger Federer, but having Andy Murray win in his home country was really incredible. It was almost like it was meant to be. And last night I watched the decathlon, and I really admire the decathletes.

Icenetwork.com: Surely, seeing all of these athletes compete has gotten your competitive juices flowing. What have you missed most from being away from competition?

Lysacek: I missed a lot. First and foremost, I love the training, and I thrive on the pressure of competing. I got to do a lot of great things outside of skating, but nothing really gave me that real sense of pride like I had when I was competing. I'm really glad that I have a great team at home to support me.

Icenetwork.com: Speaking of that team, Frank Carroll is still your coach, but is the rest of your team still the same?

Lysacek: Yes, it's still the same coaching staff, with Frank and [choreographer] Lori [Nichol]. But I've added Karen Kwan as a supplementary coach to Frank. I have been training with Karen in Los Angeles, and then I go out to a new rink in Ontario[, Calif.,] and work with Frank there.

Icenetwork.com: And can you divulge anything about your program music?

Lysacek: Sure! The long program was done last summer to (Camille Saint-Saëns' opera) Samson and Delilah. It's really strong, and it's a bit outside my comfort zone, but I really like it. And the short is to a Flamenco piece. I like it a lot, and it's a bit of a change of pace.

Icenetwork.com: How about content wise? Working on any new elements?

Lysacek: Yes, the quad is in. I have done a lot of studying of other athletes the past year. I have been watching and going through every skater's routine with a fine-tooth comb. I think I have come up with some new elements -- the quad, some spins and even footwork -- but I still believe the winning program will be a clean one.

Icenetwork.com: Do you plan on doing any show skating this fall?

Lysacek: No. I am just focused on competing.

Icenetwork.com: You have been involved with making overseas trips for the U.S. Department of State. Any upcoming trips?

Lysacek: Working with the State Department has taught me the importance of being a good representative and ambassador. I'm trying to incorporate some work with the State Department with my competition schedule.

Icenetwork.com: Today, you announced your plan to compete at Skate America. Will you compete in any other Grand Prix events?

Lysacek: That's a better question for U.S. Figure Skating. It's just Skate America right now. But I can tell you I will be at U.S. championships and hope to compete at Four Continents, world championships and World Team Trophy.

Icenetwork.com: You mention World Team Trophy. Figure skating will have a team event for the first time in Sochi. What are your thoughts about that?

Lysacek: I absolutely love that idea. I was on the first team in 2009 (which won the gold medal in Japan). I'm really looking forward to competing again in that format. The United States has always had one of the most consistent teams. I love that team event in gymnastics. It's cool to see both dynamics, with gymnasts competing in the team and as individuals. And it will be exciting that the [figure skating] team that will compete in Sochi will be the first. You saw how much attention women's boxing got in London, with it being the first [time women competed in the Games in that sport].