CLEVELAND – Jeremy Abbott might put an end to the Evan and Johnny Show’s five-year run.
Abbott reminded everyone Friday night that there’s more to the American men than Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir, following his big win at last month’s Grand Prix final with a commanding performance in the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
His score of 86.40 points was almost three points better than Lysacek, and is sure to get the attention of European champion Brian Joubert and everyone else in the world.
“I feel like the national championships are always a little bit about Evan and Johnny,” Abbott said. “My goal was to do the best I could and maybe break through that. But my focus wasn’t really on that.”
Now everybody is focused on him going into Sunday’s free skate.
Lysacek, the two-time defending champion, is second with 83.59. Weir was the surprise of the night – and not in a good way. The U.S. champ from 2003-06 and the reigning world bronze medalist popped his triple axel into a single and is way down in seventh place, trailing Abbott and Lysacek by double digits.
He’s less than five points out of third, but he’ll need to be spectacular Sunday to have a shot at claiming one of the three spots on the world championships team.
“The performance was obviously a huge disappointment,” Weir said. “Right now I’m very upset with myself. I can’t wait to get back in the locker room or go back to the hotel and sit in the shower and just cry for an hour because I’m so disappointed in myself.”
Abbott was the junior champion in 2005, and was fourth as a senior the last two years. But he and everybody else have taken a back seat to Lysacek and Weir, who not only have dominated nationals, they’ve been perennial medal contenders on the international stage.
This year, it’s been all about Abbott. He is the first U.S. man to win the Grand Prix final title, and no one else came close.
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