Greek-American Evan Lysacek took home the Gold medal for figure skating as the 2010 Olympic champion. The young skater was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2006 Winter Olympics, where he placed 4th in the men’s event. On March 26, 2009, he became the first American man since Todd Eldredge in 1996 to win the World Figure Skating Championships. He was the United States Olympic Committee’s Male Athlete of the Month for November 2006 and March 2009. As of January 2010, Lysacek was ranked 2nd in the world. Lysacek is the first U.S. man to win the Olympic gold medal since Brian Boitano. Evan talks to us exclusively about his Greek pride and his adoration for the Orthodox religion and tradition, and his life as an athlete and journey towards achieving his Olympic dream.
Where are you originally from?
I am from Chicago, which has a very large Greek population. I moved to Los Angeles 7 years ago to pursue my Olympic game.
Do you feel very Greek?
I feel a lot of Greek pride because I am Greek orthodox. I think it is such a beautiful religion and love to embrace all of it’s traditions. I grew up eating amazing Greek food, and to this day Mousaka, tzatsiki, and Lamb Yvetsi (spelling?) remind me of my childhood.
When did you begin figure skating? How long have you been training?
I started skating when I was 8 yrs old. I’ve been training towards my Olympic dream since I was about 11.
Do you have a problem with those who consider figure skating not to be a man’s sport?
In skating, we train countless hours and repetitions to make what we’re doing look easy… therefore I can understand why people watch the sport and think it looks easy. If it looks extremely difficult, we’re not doing our job as athletes very well. All it takes is to lace up skates one time and try to do what we do, and you’ll understand how physically challenging the sport is. Then add to it strength for the tricks, and stamina for the nearly 5 minute routine (sprint) and you have a pretty tough sport.
Did you ever think you would become an Olympic Champion at such a young age?
I dreamed I would become an Olympic Champion, but I only started believing it was true this year. It’s what drove me everyday to be better and better. The belief that my dream could become reality.
What did you do the night after you won the medal? How did you celebrate?
The US Olympic Committee hosted a party for me in Vancouver, with all my friends and family, and all the past Olympic figure skating Champions, and my sponsors, and my trainers. Then I began a 7 day media tour. It was very fun though.
Where do you go from here? What are your future goals?
I’m ready for my next challenge… learning to dance and competing in the Dancing with the Stars competition starting this March on ABC. I will also be touring the United States with Smuckers Stars on Ice for the next 13 weeks, and celebrating my win on the ice.
Will you start focusing on acting more?
Acting is just one of my many interests, which i hope to have more time to explore. I keep thinking my schedule will slow down, but it just seems to be picking up more and more since the Olympics. That’s the way I work best… Busy and giving 100%.