ST. PAUL, Minn. – Johnny Weir won this round – and some praise from rival Evan Lysacek.
Weir edged Lysacek in their growing on-ice rivalry Friday night, winning the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. This one’s not close to being settled, though, with a measly 1.35 points separating them going into Sunday afternoon’s free skate.
“I hope Evan can skate well,” Weir said just before Lysacek took the ice. “I hope he can get over the nerves of coming back and trying to repeat as national champion. I’ve had to deal with it before and it’s a hard thing to do. So I hope he makes it interesting and throws all his cards on the table and skates well.”
Weir scored 83.40 points, and Lysacek had 82.05. Stephen Carriere, last year’s world junior champ, was third with 76.66.
Weir and Lysacek’s ongoing tug of war is the best thing going in skating these days. Figure skating may be pretty, but it’s when things get down and dirty that fans really pay attention. The Battle of the Brians, dueling Carmens, Michelle vs. Tara/Sarah/Sasha – whenever things get heated on the ice, it’s going to get good.
Weir and Lysacek’s rivalry started in the United States, with Weir winning the national title from 2004-06 before Lysacek claimed it last year. But it’s gone global, with Lysacek claiming two bronze medals at the world championships. He took the bronze at this year’s Grand Prix final while Weir finished fourth.
Weir didn’t have his usual pizazz, looking deliberate and determined as he checked off one required element after another. His triple lutz-triple toe loop combination was done with ease and control, and he was one of the few competitors who not only landed a triple axel but did a nice one.