Local ice skater in 2nd at Olympics

February 17, 2010 6:27:00 AM PST
Naperville native Evan Lysacek left the Pacific Coliseum in second place after the men's short program at the Olympics Tuesday. One more dynamic performance in the free skate and the defending world champion will leave the Vancouver Games with a medal. Maybe even gold.

Lysacek, 24, graduated from Neuqua Valley High School in 2003.

Lysacek placed first in the 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. During high school, the figure skater trained at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge.

"He is a wonderful young man. He has worked very, very hard to be at the level he is at in this sport it is a huge commitment," said JoAnne Zalewski, competitive skating coach.

Coach Zalewski recognized that even as a young skater Lysacek had what it takes to be an Olympian.

"He had a lot of natural talents. But talent will only take you so far. Then you have to put in the time," said Zalweski.

Lysacek moved to Los Angeles to train with the best.

Tuesday night Lysacek performed the short program and its many requirements.

"You can't win the whole competition with the short program, but you can lose if you are too far down," said Zalewski.

Everyone at the skating arena was rooting for the skater Tuesday night.

"He has won a national championship. Last time in the Olympics, the short program did not go as well. His long program is fantastic," said Zalewski. "He is a wonderful young man and comes from a wonderful family. You want good things to happen to good people."

"I think Evan is a really good skater. I am definitely hoping that he does really good," said Joslyn Dostal, skater.

"He is one of my favorite skaters," said Katarina Pearson, skater.

After Tuesday's short program, American Johnny Weir is sixth and will need help to even get on the podium, trailing Japan's Daisuke Takahashi by 8.15 points.

The third American, two-time national champion Jeremy Abbott, was heartbroken after flopping his way to 15th in the event.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.