Lysacek upsets Plushenko for gold medal

Evan Lysacek didn’t need the quad after all.

The reigning World champion added the title of Olympic champion to his resume, besting 2006 Olympic gold medalist Evgeni Plushenko of Russia without the daring four-rotation maneuver.

The Chicago native scored 167.37 in the free skate and 257.67 overall to beat Plushenko by 1.30 points. The Russian was attempting to become the first repeat Olympic winner since American Dick Button in 1952, coming out of a three and a half year retirement to do so.

“It hasn’t sunk in at all one bit,” Lysacek said. “All I can say (about the quad debate) is I tried to have the complete package. Every part of the four-minute, 40-second skate, I wanted to make it count.”

"I couldn’t have asked for much more than that. To get a personal best in the most important moment of my life – you dream about it."

This wasn’t just a battle between the Americans and the Russians, but a battle of arsenals, an arms race of sorts and a contrast of styles. Plushenko is a jumper, while the elegant Lysacek, dapped in a Vera Wang costume, was the complete package, winning the contest on the technical side of the scoring equation with level four spins to go with seven triple jumps.

But there wasn’t a quad in sight — leaving the quad king bitter about the end result.

“I was positive that I won,” Plushenko said after his performance. “But I guess Evan needed a medal more than I do.”

The subject of much pre competition hubbub surfaced around a tape of Plushenko’s 2006 performance in Torino that was dissected, ripped apart move by move and sent to judges around the world. The Russian also found himself under fire for an interview he gave to a skating publication in which he claimed he and fellow French skater Brian Joubert didn’t do key point-earning transitions.

“If this were about the jumps, the competition would be to see who has the best jump,” Lysacek said. “And it would last about 10 seconds long.”

The silver medalist was quick to fire back in disapproval.

“Maybe they should call it ice dancing,” Plushenko said.

Lysacek becomes the first U.S. male to take home the crown since Brian Boitano, who also did so on Canadian soil in Calgary 20 years ago. Boitano, who was in the building, took to his Facebook page earlier in the afternoon to give the American his blessing. Lysacek, coach Frank Carroll’s most notable pupil since Michelle Kwan, also brings Carroll his first title.

“Of all the skaters I have been around, Evan may have not been the most talented,” Carroll said. “But he’s the hardest working skater I’ve ever coached.

The Olympic title caps a remarkable four-year period for Lysacek that saw him capture the U.S. title from Johnny Weir, who finished sixth, in 2007 before beating him in the closest U.S. Championship in history.

Weir, who has acknowledged a rivalry with Lysacek in the past, was humble in the wake of the victory.

“He’s a deserving champion,” Weir said. “He’s worked extremely hard for everything he has accomplished and I’m happy for him.”

Lysacek had to wait through Brian Joubert’s performance of the ‘The Matrix’ at last year’s World Championship before knowing he was victorious. Thursday, he was the first to skate in the final group, watching each of the five remaining competitors fail to capture the Olympic stage like he had.

“You know at first I was saying to myself ‘we have a bronze medal,” Carroll said. “Then it became silver and then it was the longest four and a half minutes of my life as Plushenko skated.”

Plushenko brought up the regional advantage of the competition, taking place on the North American continent and said he would try again in Sochi.

“I need to learn quad lutz and skate again,” Plushenko said. “Why not?”