Evan Lysacek: Ready to Take on the World

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

The first time I saw Evan Lysacek was four years ago. I was about to get on the ice for a practice session when he passed me with a goofy smile on his face. Too intimidated to even talk to him, I weakly smiled back and then just stood there, dumbfounded. Here he was, in the running to win his first United States Figure Skating Champion crown (which he did, of course), and I, quite frankly, was star-struck. All I remember from that day was him taking the ice, the first one out, effortlessly gliding down the rink and nonchalantly talking with his coach, ready to conquer the nation.

Little did I know that I would soon become great friends with him. It started with a simple conversation, really. He just asked what my name was and I gave it to him. Normal, right? But it was his reaction that really defines him as that hilarious, laid-back kind of guy who has something to say in response to absolutely anything – he gave his typical, famous smile and, in his deep, low voice, casually said, “Oh, well that’s a pretty cool name. I love it.” And that was the first of many great experiences I’ve had with the newly crowned Olympic Men’s Figure Skating Champion and current celebrity cast member of the coveted Dancing with the Stars.

Fast forward two years from that first conversation I had with him. I could always tell whether Evan had arrived to practice or not. His sleek, jet-black Land Rover would always be parked up near the entrance of the rink. He told me that he had gone long and far to get that car in his favorite pure black color and it was one of his prize possessions. He would always be decked out in Ralph Lauren, his eyes covered by his killer shades, with one hand clutching his Starbucks coffee, as if he could never dare part with it, and the other holding his skate bags. He once relayed to me how the Starbucks barista gave him a “drink on the house,” acting like the giddy, overexcited little boy who just got a piece of candy. Whenever he walks into the rink, his face brightens up and he would always say a cheery, “Good Morning!” to every skater, coach, and employee that he passed. He just exudes that feeling of trust and friendship with every step he takes, drawing people into him and making them feel at ease with talking to him. It is as if he is just another skater at the rink, coming in for his daily training sessions, no big deal.

It is now 2010. And he is definitely a big deal. Back in February, Evan just earned his Olympic gold medal after a highly anticipated match-up with a past Olympic Champion, Russia’s Evgeni Plushenko. Skating his heart out, Evan was able to rise above Plushenko and his pompous attitude, clutching his medal and waving off Plushenko’s rude insults with admirable grace and respect. He has unlimited bragging rights, but this is the one thing he refuses to do. It would have been easy to offend Plushenko; after all, it is Evan who is the last man standing with a gold medal wrapped around his neck. He could have declared Plushenko a sore loser and the world would have agreed. But he does not. Evan simply returns back home, in all his glory, letting his skating do the talking and, in return, winning the hearts of fans from across the globe.

Days after winning his title, he is back on the ice, jumping with just as much energy that you’d think he was still training for the Olympics. And, later, less than a week before he is set to take the live dancing stage, he is still at the rink, working on his jumps, improving his spins, and quickening his footwork and steps.

He shows no nerves; just confidence, power, and a competitive fire that lights up his eyes. You know he is ready to bid for another title, although this one is for Dancing with the Stars. With two broken toes and a full commitment to touring the nation for Stars on Ice, he still dances on.

Nevertheless, I have come to expect nothing less of Evan. On the one side, he is the current Olympic and World Champion and a two-time United States National Champion. He fully deserves his moment, his time in the spotlight. On the other, however, he is just another guy, humble and caring, talkative and entertaining, yet ready to take on the world.

By the way, now would be the perfect time for all of you to vote for Evan Lysacek during this season’s Dancing with the Stars!