Nothing modest about Evan's 2010

Gold medal, dancing with stars — and a nude photo shoot

They say an athlete's body is a work of art, but even Evan Lysacek has had doubts about his own.

So, when ESPN The Magazine asked him to pose nude for its second annual “Body Issue,” the Naperville native was emphatically resistant.

“No way, absolutely not,” he remembers telling his publicist. “Nothing she could say was going to convince me.”

But 2010 brought an array of new experiences for Lysacek, 25. He won Olympic gold in men's figure skating and captured silver with a second-place finish on reality TV show “Dancing with the Stars.”

He made it to that photo shoot, too.

In a recent phone interview from his new home in Las Vegas, Lysacek reflected on his remarkable year and gave the Daily Herald a look ahead.

‘I'll sleep when I can'

For Lysacek, the Vancouver Olympics marked the “pinnacle” of his career, which began at age 8 when his grandmother bought him a pair of ice skates.

The first U.S. competitor to win the gold in his sport since Brian Boitano in 1988, Lysacek said he thinks daily of that moment.

“That was my entire life coming together and really just a phenomenal moment,” he said. “Not a day has gone by, at least this year, that I haven't thought about that win and given thanks for everyone who has helped me along the way and all the opportunities I had.”

Next came a break from skating to try his hand at reality TV. Despite the seeming similarities between skating and dancing, learning the paso doble and tango was a whole new world to Lysacek when he competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” He made it to the final week of the competition, losing to Pussycat Doll frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger, who some argued already was a professional dancer.

After the season ended, the “DWTS” cast toured Canada, where they danced for audiences nightly. At one point, Lysacek said, he spent 17 days in 17 different cities.

The ESPN photo shoot, taken on an unseasonably cold day at Malibu Beach in California, followed in September.

He's finishing out the year working with sponsors and charities, including Ronald McDonald House and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He also had to prepare for his Smucker's Stars on Ice tour, which opened this month.

All of it came as a jolt to a guy who had spent much of his life on the practice rink getting ready for the next competition.

“It was like, in a flash, my life changed,” he said. “I've never felt like time has gone as quickly as it has this year, and maybe that's a good thing. But it took some adjusting for me because I'm kind of a creature of habit.

“I'm just trying to remember that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to enjoy everything that comes my way, and to sleep whenever I can.”

Baring it all

Lysacek said his own insecurities made him balk at posing for ESPN's “Body Issue,” which hit stands in October.

“Image is so important to adolescents, who are kind of my target audience. It was important to show that I'm an ice skater and insecure about my body, too. It was us (athletes) all kind of saying, ‘This is my body, and it's sort of tailor-made for my sport. It's not a typical ‘perfect body' like everyone seems to want — but I'm proud of it.'”

He had the obvious concerns about posing nude and how it might be perceived, but once the premise was fully explained and Lysacek saw it as “very tasteful,” he was on board.

His family approved, too.

“My family was more excited about it than me,” he said. “They know in my life and in my career how much insecurity I've had about my body. It's always been a source of contention for me because I was criticized a lot for being tall and thin. It was sort of my opportunity to be proud and comfortable in my own skin, and I think they saw that even before I did.”

Home for a night

Lysacek, a 2003 graduate of Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, doesn't expect to be home much next year, though the Stars on Ice show stops March 12 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.

“I look forward to it very, very much, because it's kind of my only opportunity to be home,” he said.

A veteran performer with Stars, Lysacek said audiences are in for a special treat on this tour, which hits Japan, the U.S. and Canada.

“I'm really excited to take it on the road. It's the 25th anniversary so they brought back a lot of great names, past Olympic champions,” he said. “There's a surprise guest that will be very, very exciting for the crowd, I think. And the numbers are really, really strong, so it's going to be a great all-around show.”

Also, Lysacek plans to roll out his own line of vitamins and supplements — and possibly return to competition.

“I really would like to get back to competition,” he said. “I don't know if that's feasible; I'd have to go back into training and see. But that's a definite goal of mine for the fall of 2011.”

Modest: Lysacek says his next goal is to return to competition

Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek. Associated Press file