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Notes from Everett's edge

Weir pumped on pomegranates; Tall tale for Nagasu

Evan Lysacek is back from his shoulder injury with innovative choreography and an unwavering work ethic.
Evan Lysacek is back from his shoulder injury with innovative choreography and an unwavering work ethic. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/24/2008) - Recovered from the dislocated left shoulder that cost him a shot at the 2008 world title, Evan Lysacek is tackling this season with renewed enthusiasm and a fresh new look.

"He was mad he missed worlds, especially since he would have had a good chance [to win]," Lysacek's coach, Frank Carroll, said after yesterday's practice.

"He's a hard worker, very conscientious, good work ethic. There's no slacking off. He's all business."

Carroll, who has worked with the two-time U.S. champion since 2003, relinquished a bit of control this summer when his pupil traveled to Russia for three weeks in June and choreographed two new routines -- a short program to Ravel's "Bolero" and a free skate to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" -- with Tatiana Tarasova. In previous seasons with Carroll, Lysacek had gotten much of his choreography from Lori Nichol.

"Evan went to Tarasova for his programs and seemed to think it was a good experience," Carroll said. "He was happy to get home; living in Moscow is rough. It's not an easy city.

"The programs are very different. There's a lot of showmanship to them. I think they will be quite appealing to the audience. I love the short; it's very interesting and dramatic. When I heard it would be "Bolero," I thought, 'Oh no, not that!' But after I saw it, I really liked it a lot."

Carroll added that the 23-year-old skater is in good physical shape.

"He does a lot of warming up before sessions, because our rink [in El Segundo, Calif.] is very cold. He's bothered a little in one leg, nothing serious. All athletes have some aches and pains."

Mirai Nagasu is growing, as both a skater and in terms of height. The U.S. champion is now 5'1" or 5'2," depending on who you ask.

"I know I made it past five feet," Nagasu, 15, said. "That was a big deal. I'm glad about it, even though it's harder for my jumps. I feel like I'm just getting used to [my new height] today.

"Over the summer, I had a lot of trouble with my jumps. Now I have the feeling of the old me back."

With stars like Yu Na Kim, Miki Ando and Yukari Nakano -- not to mention U.S. rivals Kimmie Meissner and Rachael Flatt -- also competing in Everett, Nagasu has her work cut out for her at her senior Grand Prix debut.

"I don't consider myself one of the top skaters in the world," she said. "I'm just me. If I skate my best, I will be very happy. I have no concerns about my placement."

Nagasu's primary coach, Charlene Wong, and her choreographer, Lori Nichol, have built storylines into both of her programs.

"My short is to Charlie Chaplin [music]; "Smile" is my favorite part. I'm trying to be a character who is [running] late. At first, I don't care, and it's "Smile." Then I start to rush and the music gets faster.

"In my long program [to selections from Korngold, Dompierre and Offenbach], I'm portraying the different personalities of a skater. There's a scary part, which leads into a slow, beautiful [section], and then it ends with the playful Can Can that's fun and fast. I'm trying to [show] that I can display different emotions."

The Arcadia High School sophomore is interested in clothing design and owns up to an addiction to Bravo's popular Project Runway reality competition.

"I love watching it, because [the designers] are creating images," she said. "I want to create images in my skating, so I think it's good for my skating that I watch, even though my mom doesn't think so."

Johnny Weir doesn't go anywhere without his energy drink of choice, fresh pomegranate juice.

"My coach Galina [Zmievskaya] went out yesterday and bought a juicer," he said. "She brought eight pomegranates with her in her luggage, so we're set with the juice. But that stuff is expensive."

As usual, Weir was in fine form with reporters after his practice yesterday. He's anxious to show off both his new programs and self-designed costumes, especially the one for his free skate to Notre Dame de Paris.

"It has a kind of gargoyle painted on the side; we've named him Igor," Weir, who is taking part in his first-ever Skate America, said.

"It's very early in the season for me. I've not competed in a major event in October since I was small. Of course I want to show my programs off and skate well, but I don't feel any pressure. My only pressure is taking up my opening pose and staying off my butt until the end."

The 24-year-old, who won a world bronze medal in Gothenburg this March, turned serious when asked about his status as one of the senior members of the U.S. team.

"I was at the team dinner the other night, sitting there with Adam and Mirai [Nagasu] and Rachael [Flatt] and the young ice dancers, and I said 'Oh my God when did this happen? When was I not the young kid sitting there with my eyes flashing?'" he said.

"Of course the one thing I hope to leave to younger skaters, especially in my own country, is that you can be an individual. You can speak your mind and say what you want and not worry about what this person or that person is going to say about you, because really life is too short.

"People that play by the rules may get ahead, but at the same time, they may be unhappy. I just hope I can show that you can be happy in your own skin and go crazy with the rhinestones."