Joining the cast of a professional skating tour is often considered a break from competition for amateur athletes.
No such luck for Evan Lysacek, who will be a guest skater when Stars on Ice comes to the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland for a 3 p.m. show Saturday.
Lysacek, who joins Stars on Ice for the last five dates on this year’s tour, will continue training on the side each day rather than taking some downtime, as he prepares for the new Team Trophy championship in Tokyo on April 18-19. He’ll be part of the U.S. team of six which will compete against skaters from five other countries for the title (Lysacek is a little fuzzy about who his teammates are, but, considering his schedule, he can be forgiven for this lapse).
In fact, as he consulted his BlackBerry, Lysacek, 23, discovered that he only has two weeks off in June between now and the 2010 Winter Olympics next February in Vancouver.
“I don’t need the time off,” he said by phone from Harrisburg, Pa., en route to his first tour date in Hershey. “I do my best when I’m busy.”
His best is what Lysacek gave recently in his surprise win at the World Figure Skating Championships at his home rink at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The two-time national champion, who was hampered by an injury last season, had low expectations going into the event, but he was excited about having it in his adopted hometown.
“Going into it, with the way the sport is judged now, it’s so unpredictable,” he recalled. “Yet, for a time, it made skating relevant in Los Angeles. But with that excitement came some anxiety and expectations.”
With his near-flawless routine to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Lysacek, who had never finished higher than third at the worlds, took the gold, beating out silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada and bronze medalist Brian Joubert of France.
“For it to go some perfectly, it was really special to me,” he said. “It’s an event I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
Also joining Stars on Ice for the rest of the season are Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto and 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner. The main company for the tour includes solo skaters Sasha Cohen, Todd Eldredge, Michael Weiss, Ilia Kulik, Yako Sato, John Zimmerman and Jennifer Robinson, pairs skaters Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao and dancers Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
Lysacek feels welcome in such company.
“The whole cast is so professional, and they’re like mentors to me,” he said. “To join forces in an individual sport and put out a collaborative event is so special.”
“Rhapsody in Blue” will be Lysacek’s solo number with Stars, and he said he doesn’t change his routine at all. In fact, the biggest adjustment he has to make is going from the larger-sized Olympic ice sheet to the smaller, NHL-sized rinks on the tour.
Still, Lysacek enjoys the atmosphere that Stars on Ice offers.
“You can establish a connection with the crowd that doesn’t happen so much in amateur skating,” he said.
Tickets can be purchased by calling 775-3458 or 775-3331 or at www.starsonice.com.