Olympic champion Evan Lysacek will still be at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships later this month.
For the first time since 1998, however, it won't be as a competitor.
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Lysacek said Tuesday that his role in the "Stars on Ice" 25th anniversary tour will prevent him from competing for the rest of the year. He left Tuesday for the "Stars" shows in Japan, and the U.S. portion of the tour kicks off Feb. 18 in San Jose.
"That's a huge honor to be part of the 25th anniversary tour," Lysacek said. "My parents took me to see it when I was 6 and 7 years old -- before I started skating -- and I loved it. Once I started skating and saw the show again, it had an inspirational role in my life. ... It's really an honor, and I think is going to fill the void of not competing the rest of the season."
Lysacek, the first U.S. man to win the Olympic title since Brian Boitano in 1988, will still be at nationals to promote "RISE," U.S. Figure Skating's movie on the 1961 plane crash that killed the entire U.S. world team, and the impact it has had on American skating. He'll also skate in the Jan. 30 exhibition.
Nationals begin Jan. 27 in Greensboro, N.C.
"Totally strange," Lysacek said of his role as a spectator. "I have no idea what it's going to be like. (But) I think it's going to be an exciting year."
Lysacek left open the possibility of returning for nationals when he announced he was skipping the Grand Prix series, and is "leaving his options open" about competing in the future. He is still training, doing run-throughs of his Olympic programs and even working on quadruple jumps.
But he couldn't pass up the chance to be part of the anniversary tour for "Stars," which was created by Scott Hamilton, a fellow Olympic champion and one of Lysacek's role models. "Stars on Ice" is now sponsored by Smuckers.
"That was a huge part of my decision," Lysacek said. "It's hard to express this, how he's helped me, but he obviously was a great mentor for me and gave me great advice as I went into the Olympics. That hasn't stopped. He's continued to give me great guidance with my life and where I go from here.
"A lot of opportunities come to everyone, and it's picking and choosing what's right for your own path," Lysacek added. "That's where I've had to learn and be a little smarter this year, because there are more decisions to make."
Lysacek's life has been a whirlwind of activity since he won gold in Vancouver. He was the runner-up on "Dancing with the Stars," and has crisscrossed the globe doing ice shows and promotional appearances. He hosted an event at New York's Fashion Week, and was a judge at the Miss Universe pageant.
He is the official spokesman for "RISE" and will be at the movie's premiere in New York on Feb. 17 -- the night before the "Stars" tour opens across the country.
"My life is great," Lysacek said of his hectic schedule. "What was difficult for me, from a psychological standpoint, is there was no preparation for it mentally. I was getting ready for the Olympics and bam! My life changed in a flash. I mean completely changed: my sleep schedule, diet, training, the expectations on me, having to adapt on an hourly basis. I've had to learn as I go instead of preparing in advance.
"I have done just that, and I've learned a lot over the course of the last year. I've learned that I love to skate, I still love to train. If I have the option of getting two extra hours of sleep or training, I'll choose training every time," he said. "That's just a good sign I still really love it.
"I love other stuff, though, too."