Evan Lysacek wins the World title

Evan LysacekEvan Lysacek is the 2009 World Champion.

“Tonight I wasn’t thinking about winning,” Lysacek said. “I wasn’t thinking about medaling, I just wanted to skate well. To have the title hasn’t really soaked in yet. My legs were a little stiff, because I was nervous, but once I hit that first jump — I took a deep breath and felt really good.”

American’s Brandon Mroz (207.19) and Jeremy Abbott (204.67), the only U.S. man to win the Grand Prix Final, finished ninth and 11th, respectively. The combination of Lysacek and Mroz’s results earned Team USA three spots for next year’s Olympic Winter Games.

Skating before his adopted hometown crowd at the 2009 World Championships in Los Angeles, Lysacek scored a personal best 242.23 points to take the gold medal. He is the first American man to become a World Champion since Todd Eldredge in 1996.

“It has been a slow build for me this season,” Lysacek said. “But when I got here I felt a new aura of confidence and was like a calm, new person.”

Lysacek did not squeak out the World title. He bested Canada’s Patrick Chan (237.58) by 4.65 points and France’s Brian Joubert (235.97), the 2007 World Champion, by 6.26. Joubert won the short program by 1.7 points.

His near flawless performance started with a triple lutz-triple toe combination then he nailed a triple axel and a triple Salchow. The other jumps were a triple axel-double toe, triple loop, triple flip-double toe-double loop, triple lutz and finished his passes with a double axel.

His spins were all Level 4, the highest rating possible.

Lysacek’s free skate, which brought the crowd to its feet before his final combination spin was even complete, earned him a personal best 159.53 points. He won both the technical element score (80.53) and the program component score (79.00).

Perhaps most remarkable is that he performed like a World Champion even though his health conditions are less than ideal. He did not perform a quadruple jump in Los Angeles, mainly because he has had to cope with a painful stress fracture in his left foot that he will soon have placed in a cast for four weeks.

“I knew I wasn’t going to do a quad,” said Lysacek, who withdrew from the 2008 Worlds after injuring himself on triple axel during practice. “The doctor told me it wasn’t going to happen.”

But he did not need the quad, which he performed when he won the silver medal at last month’s Four Continents Championships. He received positive grades of execution on 12 of 13 elements and a neutral grade on the other.

Mroz, skating in his first World Championships, brought out the quad toe in his free skate. He stepped out on the landing effortlessly moved onto a triple axel-double toe out of a spread eagle, performed a triple flip-double toe-double loop and then nailed a triple loop.

After popping a triple axel into a double, Mroz came back with a triple lutz-triple toe. He also performed a triple Salchow, with another step out on the landing, and a triple lutz, securing a score of 65.89 points for technical elements.

“The nerves were blocking me a bit, but I just tried to push through and do the best I could,” said Mroz, who lacked the spark he had at the U.S. Championships. “Everybody gets better from knowledge, and I can only take it and apply it to next season in the Olympic year.”

Abbott, who topped U.S. silver medalist Mroz and bronze medalist Lysacek at the national championships, had moments of brilliance in his free skate. Among the highlights were an opening triple lutz, a triple flip, triple Salchow and later, a triple lutz-triple toe-double toe combination.

But he could not overcome problems on the axel, a jump he has four times in the program. He fell out on the landings of both triple axels. He later popped a double axel into a single then put his hand down on the landing of another double axel.

“I really didn’t feel that the mistakes I made were great enough to justify my scores,” said Abbott, who placed 10th in the free with 132.52 points. “It certainly wasn’t my greatest, but I’m proud of my effort. I didn’t feel any pressure.”

In the ice dancing competition, Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto inched closer to Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin by winning the original dance. The five-time U.S. Champions are now .64 of a point out of first.

Both had season’s best scores after receiving Level 4s on all rated elements and positive grades of executions. Belbin and Agosto, who missed three months of competition because of his back injury, finished the original with 65.16 points. The Russians earned 64.68.

Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are currently third despite placing behind 2009 U.S. Champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White in the original dance. Davis and White are fourth overall heading into the free dance.

U.S. silver medalists Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates scored 54.97 for their dance. The 2008 World Junior Champions are 12th heading into Friday night’s free dance, which will decide the ice dancing medalists.

Friday is also the ladies short program featuring U.S. Champion Alissa Czisny, who represented the country at the 2007 World Championships, and two-time silver medalist Rachael Flatt, who is making her World debut. Flatt won last year’s World Junior Championships.

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