NEW YORK (AP) Evan Lysacek will be in Sochi after all.
No, he won’t be defending his gold medal after injuries curtailed his comeback last year. Instead, the Vancouver Olympic champion will be ”wearing many hats” in Russia, and he might be more exhausted after these games than he was after competing four years ago.
Lysacek will work as an analyst on NBC’s ”Today Show” for the men’s and team figure skating events. He’ll be involved with several of his sponsors, such as Citi with the ”Every Step Of The Way” program in which he will raise funds for Figure Skating in Harlem, one of his favorite organizations.
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Lysacek is aiding Procter and Gamble with its ”Thank You Mom” campaign through which his mother ”was able to get pampered, which she doesn’t get to do too often,” for the Vancouver Games. He’ll ”help out” with social media for Smucker’s and will make appearances for Ralph Lauren and Deloitte.
After the Olympics, he’ll serve as a sports envoy for the U.S. State Department, journeying to St. Petersburg to work with some Russian sports organizations.
The one thing he won’t be doing is skating.
So keeping busy is a must.
”I am still focused on healing and processing that I am not competing in Sochi,” the 28-year-old Lysacek told The Associated Press on Friday. ”It is hard for me to watch Olympic commercials and hear athletes talking about it; it is all of the things I want.
”For the last three years I fully expected I would be the one talking about it and feeling that,” he said.
He’s not because Lysacek, who has not competed since winning the Olympic title, tore the labrum in his left hip last fall. After two months of aggressive treatment, doctors told him in December he was risking permanent damage by continuing to train.
That pain eventually will disappear as the injury heals. The emotional hurt remains, and Lysacek is uncertain when it will subside.
”My heart was broken and mostly because I was on the right track,” he said. ”In July 2012, I think I could have competed in the Olympics if they were then and done quite well. The way things spiraled downward from there was very hard to handle.”
Lysacek is uncertain how he’ll feel when he touches down in Sochi, saying ”hopefully once I get to the Olympics my mind will go to Vancouver and it will be in a celebratory frame.”
But he knows he will be plenty busy during the games.
Lysacek seems most excited about being part of the ”Today Show.” NBC has hired a slew of Olympic champions for Sochi, including Scott Hamilton and Tara Lipinski. It also has one of Lysacek’s main rivals through the last decade or so, Johnny Weir, on its team.
”Their presence at the Olympics is so special,” he said of the morning show. ”A lot of athletes have such great memories of winning and appearing on the show the next day. I can go back to Torino and the next day after competing going on the show and talking to Katie Couric when she was still with them. It was really the first time I was able to relax and have fun.
”Fast forward four years, and my whirlwind after winning just really began with the `Today Show.’ `’
After the free skate and the medals ceremony in Vancouver, Lysacek went to USA House and presented his coach, Frank Carroll, with his medal. Carroll has worked with some of the sport’s greats through the decades, including Michelle Kwan, and Lysacek’s win was the first at the games for a Carroll student.
Then it was straight to the TV set.
”We were on the West Coast, of course, so they would start to broadcast at 4 a.m.,” Lysacek said. ”As I waited to be interviewed, that was the first time to really sit and look at the medal around my neck and let that experience sink in. It was an incredible moment for me that continued on and on.
”My first stop – and I think a lot of athletes, too – had their first celebratory moments through the years on the show,” he added. ”America wakes up to the `Today Show’ and the folks on it are like family to Americans. And now I get to work with that show.”