Weir, Lysacek look to reach top of ice pack

January 25, 2007|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,Sun reporter

SPOKANE, Wash. -- In any endeavor, there can be only one top dog, and both Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek want to be the alpha male of men's figure skating.

Weir is the three-time national champion who wants to add a fourth consecutive title this week, which would tie him with Brian Boitano, the 1988 Olympic gold medalist.

"Welcome to my world," said Weir playfully to open his news conference yesterday.

Lysacek is the reigning world bronze medalist, who has bested Weir not only at the Olympics, but also at the past two world championships.

"The last two years have been building," said Lysacek, whose media meeting followed Weir's. "I feel like one of the top dogs at the event."

But both say they are ready to perform their short programs today and their long programs Saturday night.

Their personal-best scores are a whisker apart. Weir has a 225.34 posted at last year's nationals. Lysacek finished the same event with a score of 224.47.

But both men have been hurting puppies this season, withdrawing from the Grand Prix final after injuring their right hips. For Weir, it's the leg he uses on jump takeoffs. For Lysacek, it's the one on which he lands.

"It has been a rough season, but I'm going to try to put that all aside," said Weir, who plans to do a quadruple toe loop in his long program.

Say what you will about Weir, 22.

He certainly will.

After his disappointing fifth-place Olympic performance, Weir told reporters: "I didn't feel my aura. Inside, I was black."

He described one of his costumes as "Care Bear on acid," and compared his performance to a teammate's routine as: "This one, they kind of sat back and had their cognac and cigarettes and relaxed. His was more like a vodka shot, let's snort coke kind of thing."

Weir's garb has raised eyebrows as much as his gab: a skirt and high heels in one off-ice photo shoot, a single glove named "Camille" as part of his 2006 on-ice costume.

This season is no different. He is skating a long program that depicts the life of Jesus.

Weir said he just can't see himself performing to something safe.

"The music is an interesting concept," he said. "I just wanted to try it."

Weir said finishing fifth at the Olympics and seventh in the world championships were "two of the biggest disappointments in my career." He acknowledges that his tank was empty when the season ended and he went on tour with Champions on Ice.

He began working with a new choreographer, Marina Anissina, something he called a turning point in his shaky mental state. Anissina helped him get beyond his failures and refocus on competitive skating and the Olympics in 2010. Fans - especially those in Japan - urged him to continue.

"I'm not always going to be invincible. I'm not always going to be top dog, but I'm going to fight as hard as I can to be the four-time champion," he said.

Standing in his way is Lysacek, 21, who finished fourth in the Olympics, third in the 2006 world championships, and has silver and bronze medals from nationals.

"I have a lot of momentum coming into this event," said Lysacek, who finished second at Skate America and then won the Cup of China.

His fall in the Grand Prix final kept him from practicing for two weeks. Pain lingers, but Lysacek said he's "in the best shape of my life."

He'll skate his long program to "Carmen," a piece he's used for more than a year. Choreographer Lori Nichol, who also designed Kimmie Meissner's long program, has given Lysacek's routine "a facelift," to make it stronger.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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