Lysacek lands his quad to end Weir's title reign
Spokane -- Evan Lysacek had no way to know he'd need the skate of his life to win his first men's U.S. Figure Skating Championship, but...
Seattle Times staff reporter
SPOKANE -- Evan Lysacek had no way to know he'd need the skate of his life to win his first men's U.S. Figure Skating Championship, but he went out and did it anyway Saturday.
Leaving nothing to chance, Lysacek, 21, who skated just before his primary rival, Johnny Weir, brought a Spokane Arena crowd of more than 9,000 to its feet -- and kept it there -- with a stunning free skate to wrap up the crown.
Skating to "Carmen Suite," Lysacek began his program with what for U.S. men's skating qualifies as a nuclear bang: a quadruple jump -- the first he had ever landed in competition.
With that ace in the hole, he skated a clean, confident program, earning a whopping 169.89 in the free skate, 248.88 for the competition. He finished amid bedlam, collapsing to his knees at center ice, as if stunned with his own performance.
Weir, the three-time defending champion, was left standing nervously and watching as the crowd heaped praise on the younger challenger.
Lysacek, who had finished 12th, seventh, fifth, third and second at these competitions since 2002, held a 78.99-78.14 lead after the short program Thursday.
His philosophy for the free skate was simple -- and risky.
"You can't dethrone a leader [Weir] ... by skating hesitant," he said. "You go out and fight with passion and just go gangbusters."
Lysacek described the program as an artistic experience.
"It was a little bit surreal," he said. "Almost like an out-of-body experience. I could almost hear my heart beating at times."
Weir, 22, failed in his bid to become the first American man since Brian Boitano to win a U.S. title four years in a row. Skating to "Child of Nazareth," Weir skated a smooth, more-lyrical program, marked by a hard fall on a triple jump midway. He scored 135.06 in the free skate, 213.20 for the competition.
But his fall from the top rung of the podium had just begun. Skating last, Ryan Bradley, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colo., had his own personal-best free skate to vault into second. Bradley's score of 145.63 gave him a total of 219.21.
"He beat me by 30 points," Weir, never one to mince words, said of Lysacek. "He kicked my ass."
The three will move onto the World Championships in March in Tokyo.
Meissner takes title
Kimmie Meissner did not skate the triumphant long program she had hoped for, but she stayed ahead of a shaky field to win her first U.S. title among the senior ladies, a year after a surprising victory at the worlds.
"It's really neat," said Meissner, 17. "I was just getting used to the world champion thing and now this is going to be a new one. I'm really excited."
Meissner finished third in the free skate with 115.99 points, behind Alissa Czisny and Emily Hughes. But she had enough of the lead after the short program to stay ahead, albeit by less than a point, 181.68 to Hughes' 180.86.
The New York Times contributed to this report.