Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's no quad for Lysacek in Vancouver

It looks like Evan Lysacek will have his Olympic moment without a quad.

The two-time U.S. champion, who won the world title in Los Angeles last March without the four-revolution jump, said a recurring injury to his left foot limits his training of the element, which has a base value of 9.8 points.

"It's a tough decision to make, but I have to go with my health," Lysacek told reporters at an early-morning press conference Saturday.

"My dilemma is if it's going to go into my [free] program at the most important moment of my career, I want it to be at 100 percent."

The skater's sore foot has also limited his practicing of the triple toe, which he uses as the second jump in his triple-triple combinations.

Even so, he refused to shut the door completely, saying that if he feels he needs the quad, he may put it in his free skate to Scheherezade.

"I've been doing them every once in a while in practice, I know that I can do it, so if I feel if it's something I want to throw in and risk, I'm open," he said. "But my plan is now to do what I can do, well."

Lysacek has done successful quad toes in competition before, most recently at the 2009 Four Continents Championships. At times, he has told reporters he believes the 2010 Olympic champion will do a quad in both the short program and free skate. But a stress fracture, discovered shortly before worlds last season, has derailed his plans.

"I wasn't able to do any jumps on my left foot leading up to the worlds last year and [afterwards] I had to take six weeks to let it heal in a cast, and it took quite a while for me to jump off the left foot again," he said.

"Working on the quad again before the nationals, I started to have some problems with my foot again, so I've tried to alleviate some of the stress on my left foot by really limiting what I've been doing."

Lysacek tried the jump in his free skate at the 2010 AT&T Figure Skating Championships and fell. He placed second to Jeremy Abbott, who hit a quad, by 25 points.

"At nationals, I was trying to figure out whether it was a risk I wanted to take at the Olympics, so I used that as practice to test it out, and it didn't prove to be a worthwhile risk for me," he said.

"The good part is there is no pain. I'm pain-free. It's more of a precautionary measure."

Lysacek didn't need a quad at worlds last season; he and world silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada skated clean programs full of Level 3 and 4 elements to defeat skaters like Brian Joubert and Tomas Verner, who tried quads in both their short programs and free skates.

With even higher stakes in Vancouver, Lysacek also must contend with reigning Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko -- who reels off quad combinations with ease -- as well as two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel and former world medalist Daisuke Takahashi of Japan.

"Plushenko is not unbeatable," Lysacek said. "I don't think anyone is unbeatable right now, because of the way the sport is judged.

"Obviously, there is a lot of room for error but there's also a lot of room to gain extra points on what you are doing, so I think we are all focused on doing what we can do to the best of our ability . . . To be a contender, it's going to take really, really good skating and no mistakes. No one element is most important; every single element is [important], not just jumps."

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