LOS ANGELES — Evan Lysacek has become the first American in 13 years to win the World Figure Skating Championship thanks to a spectacular free skate.
Lysacek is the first U.S. skater since Todd Eldredge in 1996 to take the world crown. He previously won bronze medals in 2005 and 2006 and was fourth at the 2006 Olympics.
“Well, tonight I wasn’t thinking about winning, I wasn’t even thinking about medaling.” Lysacek said. “I just wanted to skate well for my hometown crowd of L.A.”
Canada’s Patrick Chan took the silver and 2007 world winner Brian Joubert of France, the short program leader, slipped to third.
“I’ve been looking forward to this event for last few years, ever since I found out it was coming to the Staples Center,” said Lysacek, who slapped his forehead and said “Oh my god” when he saw his marks. “I love this building. I’m here to cheer on the Lakers and Kings as much as I can. I think that nervous energy was a positive for me because I turned it into adrenaline.”
Lysacek, the 2007 and ‘08 U.S. champion, slipped to third this year, one of the biggest disappointments of his career. He used that as motivation for the biggest victory of his life, creating great personal momentum heading into the Olympic season.
“It’s been a slow build for me this season,” he said before accepting his gold medal, then slapping hands with fans in the rinkside seats. “But as I got here, I felt a new aura of confidence. I felt like a calm, new person.”
Lysacek was so good that he was pumping his arms in celebration even while doing his final combination spin. Fighting back tears after getting his marks, he then waited for the favored Joubert, the last skater of the night.
Joubert began well, landing a spot-on quadruple toe loop and a triple axel-triple toe combination. Then things went sour. He stepped out of a second triple axel and put his hands down.
He hit four more triples, keeping him in contention for gold until his final jump, a relatively simple double axel which he overrated, sending him to the ice on his stomach.
That dropped him to third behind Chan.
Chan went first of the top contenders, punctuating his routine with exquisite footwork. Early in his program, he went a minute between jumps and those step sequences seemed to last just seconds.
Chan was rewarded for every movement, too. Oh, he also threw in seven triples and was not penalized much for cutting a triple loop to a double.
Then the 18-year-old Chan could do nothing but wait. And after Lysacek, all the Canadian could do was applaud the winner and accept the best finish of his career.
“When I drew first in the group, I was disappointed. It’s not my favorite spot, but I think now it is,” Chan said.
“I felt great throughout the program, and was really in my own world.”
Earlier, Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto took ice dancing from the 21st century back to the Roaring Twenties to win the original dance earlier Thursday.
The five-time U.S. champions used a perky performance that drew them closer to the leaders from Russia, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, as both couples pursue their first world title. The Russians lead by 0.64 points heading into Friday night’s free dance.
Belbin and Agosto were joined by fellow Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White in the top three of the original dance, requiring music from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. Davis-White stood fourth overall behind Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but only by .09 points.