Naperville skater wins men's gold

February 19, 2010 10:51:52 AM PST
Residents were celebrating in Naperville after a hometown hero turned in a golden performance. Figure skater Evan Lysacek, 24, skated the routine of his life Thursday night at the Olympics and was rewarded with a gold medal.

Lysacek came into the free skate less than a point behind Russia's Evgeni Plushenko.

Lysacek skated a flawless routine. Plushenko also skated a solid routine, but some sloppy landings on the jumps cost him valuable points.

In the end, Lysacek won the gold by just over a point. It's the first men's skating gold for the U.S. since Brian Boitano did it in 1988.

Lysacek's a 2003 graduate of Nequa Valley High School, which can now claim an Olympic champion among its alums.

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.

"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.