It has been a whirlwind year for Evan Lysacek. Since that glorious night last February when he was crowned the Olympic champion, his feet have barely touched
Lysacek’s life changed forever the moment he left Vancouver at the completion of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
The first stop on what would become the busiest schedule he could ever imagine was attending the Academy Awards in Los Angeles. “That was the first time I had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in Hollywood,” he said, “and to go to all the parties and events that I never thought I would ever be at, as well as attend the special night, was so amazing.
“I love Quentin Tarantino, so getting to talk to him and hear his take on the Olympics was really cool. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher also talked to me about the men’s event. It was really interesting and so much fun.”
In early March Lysacek had the opportunity to get to know one of his idols, Ralph Lauren. “Finally getting to meet him was really great. I sat down with him for a couple of hours and we just kind of bonded. We talked about cars, sports and clothing. That was really special for me. I have always looked up to him.”
Lysacek has also become a big fan of the Kardashian family. “I have known Bruce Jenner [who is married to Kris Kardashian] for a while, but I did not know the whole family very well,” Lysacek said. “Bruce has given me some good advice over the years. It is funny how much we have in common, particularly in our approach to life.
“It has been very cool getting to know the family. They are such entrepreneurs, the faces of our generation.”
In July Lysacek attended the ESPY Awards, where he was nominated in the best male U.S. athlete category. “I was extremely excited and honored to be nominated in a great category that included friends and fellow Olympians. Going to the award show was really cool.”
Lysacek filmed a commercial for the ESPY Awards with Seth Meyers from “Saturday Night Live. ” “I am a big fan of ‘SNL,’ so that was a really fun thing to do,” he said.
DANCING UP A STORM
Lysacek took on a new challenge last March, when he signed up to compete on the hit reality show “Dancing with the Stars.”
Learning to dance while performing on the U.S. Olympic Stars on Ice tour was a juggling act. “I was stepping into a whole new Hollywood realm and still living in the skating world,” the 2009 World champion said. “It was a busy time, but it was really fabulous.
“Performing with Stars was really important to me.
I wanted to thank all my fans and show them how much I appreciated all the support they have given me.”
Competing on “Dancing with the Stars” was a life-changing experience. “It was such a great adventure, coming off the Olympics,” Lysacek said. “After so many years of training and preparing on my own, to do something with an extremely diverse group of people who came from many different walks of life, and who would ordinarily never have had the chance to become friends ... I think that is what made season 10 the most successful ever.”
Lysacek said the friendships he developed with the other contestants are very special. “We have remained best friends and are like a family. We talk all the time and have had two reunions so far.
“I have always loved Pamela Anderson — I am one of her biggest fans, so getting to be close friends with her on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ was really cool.”
Lysacek danced into second place with partner Anna Trebunskaya. He subsequently toured Canada with the troupe, doing double duty as host and performer.
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
Winning the Olympic title garnered Lysacek a number of high-profile sponsorship deals that have kept him hopping.
“There are weeks when I will be in seven cities in seven days, working for a different company or sponsor each day with different speaking points to memorize,” he said.
The two-time national champion also signed on as an ambassador for the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), speaking at fundraising events to help raise support for athletes in all sports.
“I have also been working with Deloitte, a USOC sponsor, who are in the process of recruiting 10,000 students for their organization. I have been speaking on the company’s behalf at universities and colleges,” he said.
Filming a segment for the movie “Rise,” which will premiere in the U.S. in February, was something close to his heart. “That event really touched my coach, Frank Carroll, so I was really honored to be part of it,” he said in reference to the 1961 plane crash that took the lives of the U.S. World team.
Charitable work has always ranked high on Lysacek’s agenda. He is on the Celebrity Board of Ronald McDonald House and recently filmed a series of ads for HELP USA.
“November was national homeless awareness month, and HELP USA is the largest homeless advocate in the U.S. Linking up with them is really special,” he said.
“I have also partnered with Ferrero Rocher and Habitat for Humanity. We did a big push the first week of December in New York to kick off their holiday campaign. Combining the holiday season with giving back, focusing on how important home and family are — that is what it is all about.
“It is very fulfilling for me that I have even more of a platform now to make a difference,” the 25-year-old added.
Lysacek is also working on launching his own commercial ventures. “I think two things that have set me on the path I am on and have contributed to my success are nutrition and fashion,” he said.
“In 2008, I started to become very aware of everything that I put into my mouth and how it was affecting my performance. Nutrition became really important, and that was a big change in my life.
“Personal style is also important to me. Nancy Kerrigan, Michelle Kwan and Carolina Kostner brought fashion to the ice for the ladies, but no one had really done it on the men’s side.
“So teaming up with my good friend Vera Wang to bring some fashion and style to men’s skating has been a great innovation.”
He is currently in discussions with some clothing retailers to launch his own line, which Lysacek said will “definitely be very affordable.”
Being part of New York’s Fashion Week was a great experience, Lysacek said. “I worked with Vera on the preparation for her show and helped backstage before the event.
“I was excited to sit in the front row for the show. I hosted at her store in Soho for Fashion’s Night Out, which was just remarkable; the excitement level in the city for that event was extremely cool,” he added.
Lysacek took his first step as a designer in the fall to aid Habitat For Humanity. “It was a little bit intimidating,” he admitted. “I had to design a gold dress which was debuted Dec. 6 and auctioned off at a gala event.
“I have learned quite a bit from working with Vera, and I enlisted her help with that project. One hundred percent of the proceeds went to Habitat for Humanity.”
His nomination for Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year award came as a surprise. “It was kind of surreal to me to be in a category with Rafael Nadal and some of the absolute great athletes. I was thrilled to be nominated,” he said.
Lysacek admitted he misses the daily grind of training and preparing for competitions. “I am working more now than I ever have, putting in 20-hour days,” he said. “I used to think my life was so difficult as an athlete and now I am thinking, ‘Oh my God, I would go back to that, it would be like a
“Every chance I get, which has only been a handful of days since Vancouver, I am back on the ice. That is how I spend my days off, training really hard.”
He spent one of those sessions training with the reigning Olympic ladies champion, Yu-Na Kim. “It is really inspirational for me to skate with
people that I respect and admire, so it was cool to be able to get on the ice with Yu-Na.”
He spent part of the summer working on two new numbers for the Stars on Ice tour, one of which was crafted by choreographer Lori Nichol. “It is a tango which incorporates a little bit of what I learned from ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” he said.
“It is a competitive program, because I am always most impressed at shows when programs are a contrast of
competitive and show skating. I wanted to make sure one of my routines was a competitive number.”
Travis Wall devised the second number. “He is a phenomenal choreographer and a good friend mine,” Lysacek said. “He works on ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and has done everything from ‘Saturday Night Live’ to concert tours and the Academy Awards. To get him on the ice for the first time to work with me was a great experience.”
Wall chose a country pop ballad, “The Climb,” which Miley Cyrus sang for the 2009 film “Hannah Montana: The Movie.” “A friend of mine, David Hernandez, who competed on season seven of ‘American Idol,’ recorded it just for me,” Lysacek said. “It is definitely a show program, but it has an inspirational message.
“Dancing is not something that I ever incorporated into my skating before, but that quality adds a whole new layer to my performances,” he said.
Skating commitments have kept Lysacek busy the past few months. He performed in four Steve Disson made-for-TV specials and said one of his favorite shows was “The Caesars Tribute: A Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating,” which took place in December.
“It was very special. All of the great U.S. skaters, past and present, were there, including Dorothy Hamill,” Lysacek explained. “She performed at Scott Hamilton’s benefit for the Cleveland Clinic in November, which was insane. I had never seen Dorothy skate live before, so that was really incredible.
“We have all looked up to her so much over the course of our careers, so to actually see her out there skating was crazy,” he added with a laugh.
Lysacek signed on for the full Stars on Ice tour this season. “Five months, four countries [Mexico, Japan, the U.S. and Canada]. I am definitely committed to this and am very excited,” he said.
“I will be spending Christmas celebrating the 75th
anniversary of the Sun Valley resort in Idaho,” he added. “We are doing a special show on Dec. 21.
“It will be the first time I will be spending any quality time with my family since February, so I am really looking forward to that.”
So much has transpired in such a short time, the reigning Olympic champion said. “I have always been such a creature of habit, but since the Olympics everything has changed. I have a sporadic schedule that I never thought I could handle.
“Figuring out how to put my own craziness aside and adjust to this life and this schedule was a big shock initially. But it has been the most exciting time of my life.”
Originally published in February 2011