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Lysacek heads to Moscow to join Tarasova

U.S. champ hopes to come up with different programs

Evan Lyscek signs some autographs in Colorado before heading to Russia.
Evan Lyscek signs some autographs in Colorado before heading to Russia. (Mickey Brown)

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By Mickey Brown
(06/15/2008) - Evan Lysacek is coming off what, by his standards, must be considered a disappointing season, with his lone gold medal coming at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and having withdawn from the 2008 ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

So, what's a skater to do when they're in need of a makeover? Pay a visit to arguably the most prolific coach/choreographer of all-time, that's what.

That's what Lysacek, the two-time defending U.S. champion, will do Monday when he leaves for a three-week trip to Moscow to get choreography for his new programs from Tatiana Tarasova, whose recent pupils have included 2006 Olympic gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen, two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan and three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir.

Living in Los Angeles the last six years, Lysacek feels his skating is in need of a change. The elegant programs Tarasova designs may be just what Lysacek needs at this juncture of his career.

"It's easy in skating to get into a routine, where you do the same type of programs every year," Lysacek said. "I called Tatiana because I wanted to refresh my image and do something different."

Lysacek maintains he's going to continue to work with Lori Nichol, who choreographed both his programs this past season.

"I'm keeping the same team but enhancing it with a new perspective," Lysacek said.

The Lysacek-Tarasova union has been a long time coming. The two have tried to get together the last couple seasons, but their schedules never allowed it.

Now, finally, the coupling of one of the world's most athletic skaters with a coach known for being able to get at her students' emotional core is a reality.

"I have tremendous respect for her, the skaters she's worked with and the programs she's invented," Lysacek said. "Hopefully, I can bring my best to the table, and I know she'll do the same."

Tarasova choreographed Weir's short programs for three straight seasons (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06), including his fondly remembered "Swan" program, as well his free skates in the latter two seasons.

Lysacek's consulting Tarasova may be a sign that he's trying to tap into his more lyrical side.

"[Tarasova's] unique gift is coming up with great ideas for people, to package them properly as athletes and promote them properly as a skater and an artist," Lysacek said. "It's something I wasn't necessarily ready for the last couple years, but I feel like I'm ready to take on that challenge."

Lysacek doesn't fancy himself much of a classical music buff (When Nichol came to him with Carmen in 2005, he had never heard it before), so he is going to Moscow with a completely clean slate.

"I'm just going to leave it in her hands and let her use me as a marionette doll."