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Evan Lysacek shuns quad jumps, focuses on artistry

By Janet Guttsman

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Evan Lysacek shrugged off the supposed need for a showy quadruple jump when he won the Olympic figure skating gold medal on Thursday, focusing on artistry in a dramatic performance that brought spectators to their feet.

Lysacek, the first U.S. winner of the event for 22 years, came to the Vancouver Games promising not to attempt a dramatic but difficult quadruple jump and he made every second of his free-skating performance count.

"I think my program had a lot of difficult parts in it, and I worked really hard to make it look as easy as possible," he told reporters a touch defensively. "I'm doing my job if I make it look easy."

Lysacek, last year's world champion, was the only medal winner who did not attempt a quad jump on Thursday. Bronze medal winner Daisuke Takahashi from Japan tried one and fell, while silver medalist Yevgeny Plushenko failed to match his near flawless display in the short program.

Lysacek concentrated on the in-between bits of his skating program, the spins, steps and transition moves that can -- and did -- make the difference between victory and defeat.

"My focus was getting every point out of that program I could and that's what was important to me," he said.

The debate over quad jumps has been a key factor in the Vancouver Olympics, with the no-quad Lysacek camp pitted against those who say skating must move with the times.

"If you look at the Olympic motto 'faster, higher, stronger', the quad represents exactly that," Plushenko's coach Alexei Mishin said this week.

But Lysacek, his foot weakened after a stress fracture in 2009, managed to win without, wowing the crowd with a performance set to Rimsky Korsakov's Sheherazade.

His costume, a dramatic all-black outfit with rhinestone snakes entwined around his neck, played to the music.

"They represent the good and evil in the story of Sheherazade," he said.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)