Olympic figure skating champion Evan Lysacek breaks down the 2014 competition… (Reuters )
The Sochi Olympics will be a sad but exciting time for Evan Lysacek. Sad because if he had his way, he'd be defending the Olympic gold medal he won in Vancouver in 2010. Unfortunately, injuries knocked him out of commission late last year.
"I definitely feel some healing taking place, and now I just hope the results are good within the next couple of weeks and I could avoid having to have surgery again," the Naperville native told RedEye recently in an exclusive interview. "I'm getting back into some rehab and training and physical therapy. And from an emotional standpoint, I'm disappointed with the timeline of my injuries because they stopped me from being able to compete in Sochi."
On the bright side, the 28-year-old will be in Russia as part of the "Today" show, as well as putting in work for his sponsors.
Will he compete in 2018? Well, he wouldn't say. For now, he's just pumped to see how the Americans fare, including in the team figure skating competition, making its debut in Sochi.
"We're kind of envious when we see swimmers and track and field athletes and gymnasts and how they have the opportunity to win three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 medals in one Olympics, and we've always had only one shot," Lysacek said. "So it's nice to have at least two opportunities to win a medal. I think we have a really good chance to come away with a medal, the U.S."
The team event begins Thursday, a day before the opening ceremonies.
Who has the best shot in the other figure skating events? Lysacek broke it down for RedEye.
Daisuke Takahashi, Japan. "He was third in Vancouver. He's got a lot of experience, he's been a world champion, and many times a national champion of Japan. He's been very consistent over the last decade."
Patrick Chan, Canada. "He's won three world championships in a row since Vancouver and he's very consistent. He's having a really good season. He's got a couple gold medals and I think a silver on the international circuit this year."
Jason Brown. "I'm from Chicago, so I'd love to see a Chicago guy be on that team. [Editor's note: Brown has since been named to the U.S. squad.] He's young, so whether or not he medals at this Olympics, I think either way it's going to be a great experience for him and we'll be looking, in 2018, for Jason to be a major contender. But who knows? I think if he does his best he could have a really strong result."
Yuna Kim, South Korea. "She won in Vancouver and she's been quite dominant in every event she's competed in since then."
Mao Asada, Japan. "Mao is almost undefeated this season. I think she had a rough performance at the Japanese nationals, but [Asada and Kim], just like in Vancouver, I think are gonna be neck and neck for the gold medal."
Polina Edmunds. "I think [she] was the surprise to everyone at the U.S. Championships, but not to me because I've been training with her and was able to see her progression over the past couple of years. She's a tough kid, man. She's only 15 years old, but she's wise beyond her years, and what she lacks in experience she makes up for in grit."
Gracie Gold. "I think everyone is hoping she'll be in the mix as well. She's recently relocated out here to Southern California to train with my coach, so I've been able to watch her train as well. She's definitely a contender."
Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov, Russia
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Germany
"The pairs, I think, will be between the Russians and the Germans and maybe the Chinese. The Russian team has been really dominant on the international circuit and have been world champions since Vancouver. The Germans are the most athletic for sure, but they've had some ups and downs over the last couple of seasons. Pairs has gotten so athletic now that it's just gonna come down to who delivers those insane tricks."
Lysacek declined to name any. "I'd be surprised if we were in contention for a medal in pairs."
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, U.S.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada
"The Canadians won the gold in Vancouver and the Americans won the silver and they've just been flip-flopping back and forth since then, so I think the gold medal will definitely come down to those two teams. "
OVERTIME WITH EVAN LYSACEK
What makes a good figure skating outfit? What about a bad one?
I think it all depends on who you're talking to. To me what makes a good outfit is one that doesn't distract from the physicality of the sport, something that's athletic and clean. It depends on if you're trying to show your body off or hide your body.
What makes a bad one is anything that looks like a Halloween costume. So if you're skating to "Gladiator" and you dress up like a gladiator, that's bad to me. If you're skating to "Swan Lake" and you dress like a swan, that's bad. A lot of the literal interpretations of this music to me are strange. It is a sport, after all, so something that's athletic is what's most important to me and always has been.
Chris Sosa is RedEye's sports editor. @redeyesportschi
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