Lysacek Win: Art Over Athleticism

USA's Evan Lysacek skates during the victory ceremony after winning the gold medal in the men's free program figure skating competition at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
AP Photo

Some called it a rekindling of the Cold War on ice: the young American champion from Illinois, Evan Lysacek, versus the Russian master, Evgeni Plushenko, back from retirement trying to snatch a second Olympic gold.

One of the U.S. team's six gold medals belongs to Lysacek. His victory in the men's free skate Thursday night came with precision, grace and a great deal of controversy, reports CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor.

Maybe nothing separated Lysacek and Plushenko more than a public dispute over the controversial "quad," a four-spin jump, the most difficult in the sport, which Plushenko said was necessary or a skater was simply "ice dancing."

"I didn't really hear any of that, and my philosophy is just kind of to mind my own business," Lysacek said.

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By the time the competition was completed, Plushenko landed his quad but was beaten by the only medal contender who didn't even attempt one, Lysacek.

Brian Boitano, the last American man to win gold 22 years ago, said it was less about quads or a complicated new scoring system than it was simply about a clean skate.

"No one should be surprised Evan won," Boitano said.

Boitano said Lysacek was smooth and precise, landing his jumps perfectly.

"He's not getting excited," Boitano said. "He's not celebrating. He's taking one thing at a time."

Plushenko, however, was unusually off-center, noting one triple axle that wasn't quite perfect.

"Look how he leaned out of that," Boitano said. "That really was probably the reason that he didn't win the competition."

Watching it all was a group in Harlem that helps young girls use skating to improve their schooling, which Lysacek has supported with time and fundraising.

"He's really cool for being someone who's training and winning the Olympic gold," Wendy Ngada said.

Lysacek, only 24, seems primed to compete for years to come building on what he calls the best skate of his life.