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Lysacek roars to world title in Los Angeles

Patrick Chan second; Brian Joubert third

Evan Lysacek is tops in Los Angeles.
Evan Lysacek is tops in Los Angeles. (Getty Images)

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By Linda Przygodski
(03/27/2009) - Evan Lysacek didn't have a quad, and it didn't matter.

In the end, it came down to who had the best night on the ice, and Thursday at the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, it was Lysacek.

"Tonight I wasn't thinking about winning," said Lysacek. "I wasn't thinking about medaling; I just wanted to skate well. To have the title hasn't really soaked in yet. My legs were a little stiff, because I was nervous, but once I hit that first jump, I took a deep breath and felt really good."

The two-time U.S. champ trailed Frenchman Brian Joubert by 1.70 points heading into the free skate, but the American's flawless program to "Rhapsody in Blue" grabbed 159.53 points, winning the free skate by some eight points. It was energetic and much more dynamic than his performances at the AT&T U.S. Championships in January, where he lost his national title and finished third.

His total overall score of 242.23 allowed him to easily win his first world title ahead of silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada and bronze medalist Joubert.

The much ballyhooed war of words over the quad turned out to be just a sideshow for the media.

Chan, who did not have any quads in his programs, may have spent too much time worrying about the fact that Joubert did. In the end, both Chan and Joubert made mistakes, letting the title slip from their fingers.

"When I landed the first jump, I was really surprised," commented Chan, who already defended his Canadian title this winter and won the Four Continents gold medal soon afterwards. "I rushed the toe loop, but I was still happy to stay on my feet the whole program."

For the second year in a row, in a somewhat embarrassing fashion, Joubert was proved wrong. You could almost hear a chorus of "once bitten, twice shy," rise up when he planted face first onto the ice on a double Axel late in his program.

The Frenchman, who won the European title in January, managed to hold on to a podium finish but was visibly shaken.

"I felt strong at the beginning of the program," Joubert said. "After the first two jumps, I thought I'd skate clean. The error on the second triple Axel cost me my concentration and threw me off. I paid for the beginning of the season, with a lack of practice and equipment problems. But, I know I could have done better. I was ready to get the gold medal. ... Obviously, I am very disappointed."

Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic was fourth, and Samuel Contesti of Italy placed fifth.

Team USA's Brandon Mroz stepped out of his opening quad toe, popped a triple Axel and stepped out of his triple Salchow. He captured ninth place.

"I felt good," said Mroz. "Getting through the quad, I had a little step. I was pushing through expectations this year."

Jeremy Abbott's troubles continued Thursday. He turned out of his two triple Axels and, despite elegance and artistry, he took a hit on his marks. Abbott earned just 132.52 for his free skate, 204.67 overall.

That dropped the reigning U.S. champion to 11th place.

"I didn't expect myself to be in this position," Abbott explained. "I had a rough time. My program wasn't bad. I gave it my full heart."

Lysacek's win combined with Mroz's placement guarantees the U.S. three spots on the men's Olympic team at the 2010 Games in Vancouver.