Evan Lysacek has a fondness for the Cup of China. Skating in Nanjing in fall 2006, he won the gold medal, establishing himself as one of the leading men of figure skating heading into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
“It’s crazy for me to think that it was only four seasons ago that I won Cup of China,” Lysacek said. “It seems like my life has changed so much since then. I’ve won the World Championship and two national titles but standing on top of the podium at 2006 Cup of China, that will always be a really special moment in my career.”
It is the only gold medal Lysacek has ever won on the Grand Prix circuit since making his debut with a fifth place showing at 2004 Skate America. He won his first medal, silver, at 2005 Skate America. His collection also includes 2005 NHK Trophy silver, 2006 Skate America silver, 2007 Skate America silver, 2007 Cup of China silver, 2008 Skate America bronze and 2008 Skate Canada bronze.
In 2007, he won the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Final. He qualified for the final event in the two previous seasons by winning medals at both of his 2005 and 2006 Grand Prix events but withdrew both due to injury.
Lysacek starts his push toward the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in search of another gold at Cup of China, Oct. 30-Nov. 1, in Beijing. He will also compete at Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“Every time I compete, I want to do the best that I can do,” he said. “The Grand Prix is a good opportunity to see where I need to improve in order to accomplish my goals for nationals and the Olympics. Last season, I really learned at lot from my Grand Prix events, and it helped me get to the level I needed to be at to win the World Championships. Taking away opinions from the judging panel at Cup of China and Skate America can be as important as taking home medals.”
Lysacek’s main competitor in China will be Japan’s Nobunari Oda, who won three international events last season including the NHK Trophy. Oda started his season in mid-October with a win at Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, where he posted a final score of 242.53, which is almost two-points higher than what Olympic Champion Evgeni Plushenko scored in winning last week’s Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.
“I think we all start with a clean slate at the beginning of the season,” Lysacek said. “I don’t think that I am unbeatable just because I’m the World Champion. What happens now depends on what you’re doing now. I’m working really hard to skate well this season, not relying on my World title.”
Oda has not attempted a quadruple jump this season while Plushenko landed two in Russia — a quad toe-triple toe combination in both programs. Lysacek has landed a quad in competition, most recently at the 2009 Four Continents Championship where he finished second, but it is not a fixture in his programs.
“The quad is something that I do train,” said Lysacek, who set his personal best at Worlds without a quad. “It may be something that I attempt at Cup of China but my coach Frank [Carrol] and I have not decided yet.”
Lysacek’s American teammates Stephen Carriere and Armin Mahbanoozadeh are not planning on attempting a quad in Beijing. But quads will likely come from their international competitors including France’s Yannick Ponsero, the national champion who took fifth at Trophee Eric Bompard, and Russia’s Sergei Voronov, the two-time national champion who finished sixth in Paris.
Carriere started his season with a bronze medal at Finlandia Trophy. Last season, Carriere finished second at Cup of China, sixth at the NHK Trophy and ninth at the U.S. Championships. He made his Grand Prix debut with a fourth place showing at 2007 Skate America then followed it with bronze at NHK Trophy.
Mahbanoozadeh is making his senior debut in Beijing. On the 2008 Junior Grand Prix circuit, he finished second in Courchevel, France, first in Madrid, Spain and second at the final in Goyang City, Korea. He stumbled at nationals, finishing sixth in junior men’s.
At Cup of China, Lysacek will debut two new programs choreographed by Lori Nichol, and enhanced by his recent on-ice work with a prima ballerina. His short program is to Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird” and free skate “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.
“I’m really passionate about both of my programs this year,” Lysacek said. “I am really proud of where they are now, for October, but I think as the season goes forward, they will be even be better. As we get closer to nationals and the Olympics, they will continue to grow and become stronger.”
The short program is Friday at 5:50 p.m. local time with the free skate on Saturday at 4:10.
Cup of China is the third event of the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The series, now in its 15th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative, point-scoring format. The top six scoring athletes in each discipline move onto the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 3-6, in Tokyo, Japan, which will be combined with the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final for the second consecutive season.
The six Grand Prix events are Trophee Eric Bompard, Oct. 15-18, in Paris, France; Rostelecom Cup, Oct. 22-25, in Moscow Russia; Cup of China, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Beijing, China; NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, in Nagano, Japan; Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Canada.
The points toward the Grand Prix Final that are awarded for each place are 15 points for first; 13 points for second; 11 points for third; nine points for fourth; seven points for fifth; five points for sixth place; four points for seventh place; and three points for eighth. In pair skating, only the top six receive points.
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