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posted: 2/20/2010 12:01 AM

Lysacek's whrilwind day involves TV appearances, controversy

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  • Naperville's Evan Lysacek displays his gold medal Friday.

    Naperville's Evan Lysacek displays his gold medal Friday.
    Photo by Mark Maloney

By Mark Maloney

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Evan Lysacek's first day as an Olympic gold medalist brought appearances on The Today Show and Oprah, with controversy in Russia.

"I haven't gone to sleep yet," he said at a 10:30 a.m. (PST) press conference Friday.

Lysacek, from Naperville and the DuPage Figure Skating Club, became the first American to win Olympic gold in men's figure skating since Brian Boitano did so in the last Games hosted by Canada - Calgary, 1988.

By the time Thursday's free skate at Pacific Coliseum had ended and Lysacek had answered questions for the press, it was midnight in Vancouver.

Then he went to doping control.

At 4:30 a.m. (6:30 CST), he joined The Today Show crew for a solo interview and another with his family - father Don, mother Tanya and sisters Christina and Laura.

Tanya was so nervous Thursday night that she stayed across town, watching the finals on TV at the Procter & Gamble Family Home.

"As the program went on, I'm just getting excited," she told the Today audience, "because he was nailing everything."

Don said he felt "joy for him and joy for us. It was a lot of work for him and a long time coming, but he stuck it out and saw it through to the end. It was brilliant in the end."

Three hours after being on The Today Show, Evan was on the Oprah Winfrey Show via satellite. Then came the press conference.

He credited "my secret weapon," legendary coach Frank Carroll, for quelling his nerves. He thanked friends, family and the team of specialists who do everything from design costumes to choreograph his routines.

"It's kind of the moment that I've been waiting for for my whole life," he said. "I can't help but to think it's destiny for any Olympic champion in any sport, so I'm ecstatic that this is my destiny."

A hectic destiny.

"Ever since the scores came up and the final results came up, I don't remember much about what happened. It's been such a whirlwind," he said. "But I do remember everything leading up to the performance yesterday and the actual skate."

In defeating Evgeni Plushenko, the 2002 silver medalist and 2006 gold medalist, Lysacek found controversy.

"I was positive that I won," Plushenko said Thursday, through an interpreter. "But I suppose Evan needs a medal more than I do. Maybe it's because I already have one. I have to share with you, though, that two silver and one Olympic gold, that's not too bad."

In Russia, Plushenko's wife called for an investigation of the results.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent Plushenko a telegram that, according to Reuters, read in part: "I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the wonderful Olympic performance - your silver is worth gold. You were able to overcome all the obstacles in your brave comeback and performed the most accomplished program on the Vancouver ice."

The sticking point with the Russians was that Plushenko pulled off a difficult quadruple jump.

Lysacek, nursing a sore left foot, scratched the quad from his program earlier in the week and said he would go for a clean technical routine.

Plushenko, interviewed by Russian TV outlet RTR, said that a quad is necessary to be a true men's champion and that "just doing nice transitions and being artistic is not enough because figure skating is a sport, not a show."

Lysacek said that a quad is an important jump, but it is just one element in a four-minute, 40-second program. He held his tongue when he could have lashed out at Plushenko.

"I guess I was a little disappointed that someone that was a role model for me would take a hit at me, I guess in probably one of the most special moments in my life," Lysacek said. Then he added, "I'm sure he said stuff in the heat of the moment that maybe he doesn't mean, so we'll try to not take it out of context and give him the benefit of the doubt."

As for what's ahead, Lysacek said he and his sore foot are "not sure yet" about competing in the World Championships.

Just as winning a world title last year rejuvenated him, though, Olympic gold "has only done more. I love skating. I can't, at this point, imagine my life without it. I get such satisfaction with the daily training and the daily grind and giving 100 percent to something on a daily basis that I can't see giving it up just yet."