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Eager Lysacek views injury as 'minor setback'

Skater looking to compete internationally in order to meet ISU technical minimums

Evan Lysacek is keeping his fingers crossed that his groin injury heals quickly.
Evan Lysacek is keeping his fingers crossed that his groin injury heals quickly. (Getty Images)

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By Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(10/11/2012) - Olympic gold medalist Evan Lysacek has had to push back his comeback plans, withdrawing from the upcoming 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America with a groin injury on Wednesday, but in an interview with icenetwork.com, he said he hopes to be back on the ice at an international event in early December.

Lysacek, who has not competed since winning the gold medal in Vancouver in 2010, has a couple options available to him -- he could compete at either the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany (Dec. 5-9) or at the Golden Spin of Zagreb (Dec. 13-16) -- and said he is awaiting word from U.S. Figure Skating as to where and when he might be able to skate.

"I'd like to know yesterday," Lysacek said. "I'm just waiting to hear."

Lysacek reiterated his plans to compete at the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, set for Jan. 20-27 in Omaha, Neb. As the reigning Olympic champion, Lysacek can compete at nationals without having to go through regionals or sectionals. (The rule states that a skater who earned a medal at the most recent Olympic Winter Games gets byed through to the U.S. Championships.)

The 2013 World Championships, set for March 10-17 in London, Ontario, however, are a different matter. For that event, Lysacek would have to meet the minimum technical elements scores (35 points for the men's short program and 65 for the men's free skate) at least once in any international competition on the 2011-12 or 2012-13 ISU calendar.

Racking up the necessary points shouldn't be the hard part for Lysacek, who earned technical scores of 48.30 and 84.57 in the short program and free skate, respectively, in Vancouver. Being injury-free and finding the right time to skate two programs at an ISU event are the difficult part of the equation. If the events in early December do not work out, there are other options, including the 2013 Challenge Cup in The Hague, Netherlands (Feb. 21-24), but that would be bumping close to worlds, and, ideally, Lysacek would like to showcase his new programs before nationals.

His coach, Frank Carroll, said he was not sure where or when Lysacek might compete, saying, "I hadn't been too concerned about that because I thought he would be competing at Skate America."

Lysacek, who is aiming to compete in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (which would mark his third trip to the Olympic Games), said he suffered the injury in late July while warming up during a session in Lake Arrowhead, Calif. Although he felt the injury right away, he said he continued skating because it didn't appear to be too serious.

"I skated for a few days," he said before pausing and then adding, "Until I couldn't skate anymore. Or walk."

He took time off and underwent physical therapy to try to get healthy again but said he ran out of time to compete at Skate America.

"All athletes are looking for their limits and trying to see how far they can push their bodies," Lysacek said. "I tried to get things healed, and when I came back to the ice, I think my eagerness to get ready for Skate America was high.

"But we're only athletes; we're not gladiators, or warriors or robots. We're flesh and bone, and all of this pounding takes its toll on our bodies. Figure skating is just a tough sport."

Lysacek had entered Skate America and Trophée Eric Bompard in France last season but also withdrew.

Still, in the big picture, Lysacek is looking at this injury as "probably a minor setback" but added that he wanted to be "really careful" about staying healthy.

"I'm still looking forward to the rest of the season, and I'm happy to be back and training," Lysacek said. "Every little postponement makes me that much more excited for when I do get back and compete."

Carroll said: "It is too bad. He was looking forward to doing this. But life goes on."