Hometown favorite Evan Lysacek became the first American man in 13 years to win the World Figure Skating Championship after an amazing free skate in Los Angeles last night. Lysacek is the first U.S. skater since Todd Eldredge in 1996 to win the claim the men's World crown. “I wasn’t thinking about winning, and I wasn’t thinking about medaling," Lysacek said. "I just wanted to skate well for my hometown crowd.”
Patrick Chan of Canada claimed the silver and Brian Joubert of France the bronze.
Lysacek, 23, skated second to last in the final flight. and earned a season best score of 159.53 (80.53/79.00). He racked up a total score of 242.23 to move up from second place and to win his first World title.
The two-time American champion (2007-08) set the Staples Center on fire as the crowd roared it approval every step of the way. Lysacek looked determined when he took the ice but admitted afterward that he was a bit nervous. "The nervous energy was a positive for me, because I turned it into adrenalin tonight,” he said.
The two-time World bronze medalist (2005-06) hit a big triple Lutz-triple toe right at the beginning of the program to “Rhapsody in Blue.” Lysacek reeled off a triple Axel, triple Salchow, triple Axel-double toe, triple loop, triple flip-double toe-double loop, triple Lutz and a double Axel, and the crowd cheered louder with each element that he checked off.
His spins were fast and well centered and were graded a level four, while his dynamic footwork earned a level three. During the last spin, the applause in the arena grew louder and louder, spectators jumped up from their seats, and the first stuffed animal even flew on the ice.
At the end, Lysacek put his face in his hands and then skated around, pumping his fist in triumph. “I felt I was in great shape. Stamina-wise, I was good and I felt strong. Once the program went on I told myself not to get too excited. I just wanted to throw my hands in the air, and that’s why near the end I was celebrating a little bit," Lysacek said.
Chan had drawn first to skate in the final group. He put down a solid program and the crowd threw their support behind the two-time and reigning Canadian champion. Chan received 155.03 points (78.93/76.10) and took his first World medal with 237.58 points.
"At the beginning, when I drew [to perform] first in the group, I was disappointed. It’s not my favorite spot, but I think now it is,” Chan joked. “I went out in the warm-up, did everything and was calm, and was ready. It really set me up for the free program. I felt great throughout the program, and was really in my own world.”
The 18-year-old opened his elegant routine to a "Cello Sonata" and "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninov with a solid triple Axel. The 2009 Four Continents champion went on to produce a triple flip-triple toe, a triple Lutz and a triple Salchow as well as a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination. He also performed excellent spins and footwork; all but his straight line steps were graded a level four.
The only glitches came when he two-footed the second triple Axel and just added a single toe for a combination and when he doubled the loop.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen. I was going to be just as happy coming home with the bronze," said Chan who placed third in the short program. "I think there are still the Olympic Games coming up, so I think this is good progression. I’m a type of person that gets better every time. So I think it will get better next season."
Joubert skated last and right after Lysacek, who seemed to have stolen all of the energy out of building. Joubert scored 151.57 points (75.77/76.80) and slipped from first to third at 235.97 points. "Obviously I’m very disappointed," he said, adding that his sights are set on winning an Olympic gold medal. "I have to take something from this defeat for the Olympic year. The goal is to attack a 100 percent starting with September.”
Performing to “Matrix Reloaded” and “Requiem for a Dream,” Joubert started strongly with an excellent quadruple toe loop followed by a triple Axel-triple toe loop. However, he stumbled out of the next jump, another triple Axel. The French star recovered to hit a triple Lutz, triple Lutz-double toe, a triple loop and flip. He also performed strong footwork and spins, getting a level three for all of them but for the last spin. However, he fell on the last jump, a double Axel.
When he had finished, he knew that it was not going to be enough tonight. The bronze was his fifth World medal. The 24-year-old was World champion in 2007 and silver medalist in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
“I felt strong at the beginning of the program. After the first two jumps I thought I’d skate clean," he said. "The error on the second triple Axel threw me off. I paid for beginning of the season with lack of practice and equipment problems. But I know I could have done better. I was ready to get the gold medal. I can’t complain about the placement, I’m third, that’s OK."
Tomas Verner (CZE) finished fourth at 231.71 points. He nailed a quad-triple toe loop combination and five clean triples, but doubled a Lutz and a flip towards the end of the Tango program (231.71 points).
Samuel Contesti (ITA) entertained the crowd with his cowboy routine that featured seven triples to come in fifth (226.97 points). Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) was sixth with 222.18 points. He landed seven clean triple jumps.
The day started with the original dance which for 2008-09 season is rhythms of the 20s, 30s and 40s. The 30 couples in the event chose a wide variety of dances.
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia held on to their lead after the compulsory dance, but Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (USA) closed the gap a bit. The Russians score after the first two segments of the competition is 105.45 to the Americans' score of 104.81.
Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were sixth in the original dance but remained in third place overall.
Domnina and Shabalin had picked a Jazz Waltz from 1934 by Dmitri Shostakovitch and gave a delightful performance of their dance as they skillfully played the roles of a young lady and hooligan.
The 2008 European champions completed a smooth side-by-side footwork sequence, a circular step sequence, a dance spin and a straight line lift as well as synchronized twizzles. Each of these elements was awarded a level four for all elements.
The Russians achieved a season best score of 64.68 (33.40 element score/31.28 program component score) and were ranked second in the original dance. “We are happy with what we did, but it always can be better. We are excited about getting a level four for all our elements. We are always striving for a level four, but the quality and execution is judged by the technical specialists. This was probably the last performance of this dance in the season and therefore we tried to give the maximum,” Domnina said.
Belbin and Agosto’s tap dance to “Stepping Out” was highlighted by precise footwork, fast twizzles and rotational lift. The Americans captured the mood of the dance perfectly and were technically on the top of their game as well, earning a level four for all five elements. They posted a season best of 65.16 (33.90/31.29) to win this portion of the competition. “It’s been a long, tough road and we really wanted to be here. We wanted to show what we’ve accomplished over the last year and there was no way we were going to sit this one out,” Agosto commented.
Performing to a Charleston to the soundtrack of “The Boyfriend,” Virtue and Moir completed intricate steps and a straight line lift with changes of position, but Moir was off balance on a twizzle and the dance spin was little wobbly as well.
The reigning World silver medalists still had a level four on all elements, and finished with a score of 61.05 points (31.90/29.15). Overall they held on to third place at 100.42 points. “It was a little bit of a difficult performance. It obviously was not a personal best, but we were still able to perform, and we always have fun no matter what. It is a motivation for us heading into the free dance,” Moir said.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA) are within striking distance of the podium at 100.33 points in fourth place. They put out an entertaining Charleston and also got a level four for all their elements. Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (RUS) are currently ranked fifth. They gave an energetic Blues and Quickstep, but their twizzles were slightly out of sync (99.02 points). Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (FRA) are in sixth after their smooth Lindy Hop (98.37 points).