Evan Lysacek is six months out from the Sochi Olympics and three weeks from his first competition since winning the 2010 Olympics, but he’s far from 100 percent.
“We’re at the trial and error stage,” Lysacek’s coach, Frank Carroll, told USA Today. “He’s recovering from his injuries and his surgeries which were a lot more extensive than a lot of people know. It’s getting better and better but he is in pain and he has to be very careful with how much he does. I don’t know in figure skating if someone has tried to come back from that level of injury.”
A groin injury forced Lysacek out of Skate America last October. Then, he underwent sports hernia surgery in November. Lysacek is scheduled to compete at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City from Sept. 12-14.
“I think he will contend,” Carroll told USA Today. “He’ll go to Salt Lake and skate well, skate decently but that’s it. Today we don’t expect the world. In a couple of months we expect him to be much, much better and 100 percent by the Olympics.”
Carroll and Lysacek made comments at Champs Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., where U.S. figure skaters across all disciplines congregate before the season to perform their programs in front of judges. Consider it like baseball’s simulated games.
“I’m gaining more confidence as I go,” Lysacek told USA Today. “I see myself in Sochi — yes. I hope that I can make that a reality. I have a lot of steps up the ladder to get there.”
Lysacek, 28, is attempting to make his third Olympic team and to become the first man to repeat as Olympic figure skating champion since American Dick Button in 1948 and 1952.
It will not be easy, compounded by the fact that the U.S. has two men’s spots at the 2014 Olympics as opposed to the three it had in 2002, 2006 and 2010. The U.S. earned two because of its showing at worlds, where Max Aaron placed seventh and Ross Miner 14th.
Lysacek, Aaron, Miner and three-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott figure to fight for the two Sochi spots at the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships in Boston in January.
Internationally, the top contenders for Sochi medals will be three-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada, world silver medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, world bronze medalist Javier Fernandez of Spain, Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi and Yuzuru Hanyu and, potentially, Russian Evgeni Plushenko. Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic champion, is attempting one more comeback at age 30.