As figure skating’s “pre-season” continues this week with both JGP Slovakia and the U.S. International Classic, I took it upon myself to write this open letter to our reigning men’s OGM. In theory, at least, he has time to read it now that Grant Hochstein is replacing him at the Classic. Best of luck to Hochstein and the rest of Team
Dear Evan Lysacek,
You don’t know me, but we actually have a connection that goes beyond our suburban
roots. Way back in the early 1980s—a few years before you were even born—came
the formation of the DuPage Figure Skating Club of which you’ve been a member your
entire career. I know this because, as an adolescent, I was one of its first
So, see? It’s almost like we’re related or something. Which might be why I feel I can say the following to you:
PLEASE DON’T TRY TO COMPETE ANYMORE.
I’m actually better than a relative because sometimes, ya know, they’ll just tell you what they think you want to hear. But I’m out here, in the cyberspace trenches. I read the IceNetwork and Phil Hersh articles (just to mention a few); I watch NBC bring your name up with every breath of skating airtime they take. And I’m here to tell you it’s just. Not. Worth it.
You are a 28 year-old man with two
titles, one World title, and an Olympic Gold Medal. You have “everything” (by
figure skating standards, anyway); still, you want more. I don’t begrudge you
that... okay, that’s not true. I DO come from the school of thought that says the Olympics (to say nothing of that
precious OGM) are such a special event... you’ve had your turn... in fact,
you’ve been there twice... don’t deny someone else their dream just because
“you wanted more”...
I know there’s that Other School, too—the one that says The
needs to send its best competitors to U.S. ; if Lysacek earns a Top Two finish in
January, so be it. And I always have a problem with that argument, if only
because the component mark is (and always will be) such a subjective little
sucker, particularly where OGMs are concerned... Sochi
But that whole “should he or shouldn’t he?” debate is water under the proverbial ice bridge in your case, at least as far as I’m concerned. Because you’re injured, Evan. Again. It took a full season of “negotiations” with U.S. Figure Skating to reach an “agreement” for you to resume competing, but the resumption was over before it began due to a groin injury that kept you out of 2012 Skate America. Then came surgery in November 2012 to repair an abdominal tear (a.k.a. sports hernia), which of course kept you out of 2013 Nationals. Then came more buildup in the off season... again... more than ever this time, for you’ve made it clear the
goal was your goal as well...
Then came USFS’s Champs Camp just a few weeks back, where your coach Frank Carroll made it clear that you are still suffering, reparation surgery be damned.
I don’t know in figure skating if someone has tried to come back from that level of injury, Carroll said about you.
And earlier this week, with just a few days to spare, IceNetwork announced your withdrawal from your latest comeback vehicle (the
International Figure Skating Classic, which starts its senior events Thursday evening )
due to a “slight abdominal tear.”
Look... I don’t think any of us doubt that you’re serious-as-a-heart-attack about this
comeback stuff. It’s just that, at this point, I don’t want to see it become
serious-as-a-guy-writhing-in-dire-agony-on-the-ice. If your body’s not fully
healed at the start of an Olympic season, how’s it going to rectify itself...
or even stay at some sort of “manageable” pain level... over the next four
months of intensive training?
If you’d never made an Olympic team before, I’d understand the mindset a little better. But you HAVE. Twice. And won the ultimate prize the second time around. What is there to prove? That you’re a Man of Your Word? That your groin muscles are more resilient than Plushenko’s back muscles? That you’re more serious about this quest than Johnny Weir is about his? Is it a pride thing? (Oh, please don’t let it be a pride thing...)
NBC will set its sights elsewhere... eventually... but not until you and Frank tell them it’s time to do so. Maybe The Network Powers That Be aren’t as concerned about your well-being as you think. Maybe it’s time to stop listening to all that press, and stop feeling all that pressure.
Maybe, instead, you should listen to what your body’s trying to tell you.
See you at Skate
(Who, incidentally, has 4 very nice photos of you in her book Skating on Air)