Published February 17, 2010
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — While Evan Lysacek thinks about dusting off a special spot in his trophy case, Johnny Weir, well, just plain dusts.
Lysacek left the Pacific Coliseum on Tuesday night in second place after the men's short program. One more dynamic performance in the free skate and the defending world champion will leave the Vancouver Olympics with a medal. Maybe even gold.
"I had some pressure coming in as a reigning world champion and I felt it," Lysacek said. "To be able to go out and silence all of that really felt good."
Weir is sixth and will need help to even get on the podium, trailing Japan's Daisuke Takahashi by 8.15 points for the third spot. He was so edgy heading into competition that Weir broke out the cleaning spray at the apartment he shares with ice dancer Tanith Belbin in the athletes' village.
"Last night I was nervous, so I Pledged everything," he said. "Some people eat, some people drink, some people smoke. I Pledge."
The third American, two-time national champion Jeremy Abbott, was "heartbroken" after flopping his way to 15th.
"I don't where it went wrong and I don't know why," said Abbott. who skated exceptionally well at the U.S. championships last month.
Nothing went wrong for Lysacek, whose shot at a medal in 2006 was ruined when, ravaged by flu, he crashed his way to 10th place in the short program. His brilliant free skate got him up to fourth.
Now he can put that behind him.
Lysacek will go first in the final group Thursday night. Takahashi, just .05 behind Lysacek, has the third-from-last spot, followed by Weir and Evgeni Plushenko.
That leaves Lysacek needing to post a high number and hope it's enough to make him the first American winner of Olympic men's gold since Brian Boitano in 1988.
But he knows how difficult it will be to overtake Plushenko, who could become the games' first repeat gold medalist in men's figure skating since Dick Button in 1952.
"He has one major advantage over everyone, and that's an Olympic gold medal," Lysacek said. "He has power mentally because he has what we all want. I think it's going to take some mighty fine skating to get that power away from him."
Weir isn't concerned about challenging Plushenko. He didn't consider himself a medals possibility when he arrived in Vancouver, even though he's won three U.S. titles and, as recently as 2008, took world bronze.
"I actually had fun tonight, and that's something I haven't been able to say for a long time," said Weir, who quit for a few weeks last spring after bombing so badly at the U.S. championships he failed to make the world team. "I felt like I really showed my heart."
Abbott couldn't complete a triple axel or a triple lutz. Still, he promised not to pack it in despite having little shot at a high placement.
"I'm going to have to do a lot of digging in the next two days, because I'm not going to give up," he said. "I'm not going to leave it here. I'm not going to leave my games on that experience."