Evan Lysacek: My favorite thing is to be in arenas when they are empty. I used to train in Staples Center. It’s so relaxing, isn’t it?
Taylor Selcke: It’s amazing, and tonight it’s going to be filled with thousands of screaming hockey fans.
EL: You know what’s worse than thousands of screaming fans? Thousands of people dead silent.
And so begins my chat with Evan Lysacek, one of the most decorated male skaters in figure skating history, and winner of every single championship that currently exists. I was more star-struck than most Tuesdays seeing as I found myself not just talking to an Olympic gold medalist, but actually on the ice skating with him . . . at 5 a.m. . . . in an eerily quiet Xcel Energy Center.
Since he left competive skating, he's placed second during the 2010 season of Dancing With the Stars, and even serves as a sports envoy for the U.S. Department of State. But now, after the countless injuries and surgeries that have become par for the Olympian's course, he’s facing the end of his figure skating career. Which left me wondering: When your whole life has revolved around the attainment of the singular goal of reaching the pinnacle of a sport that, by it's very nature, will end for you while you're still young, what do you do with the rest of your life? So, as we skated laps, recorder in my hand, I asked him about everything from reaching his sport's zenith to his role in the upcoming Stars On Ice tour (comes to St. Paul on March 22) to life after skating.
TS: This is your fifth time with Stars On Ice.
EL: Yes, but it’s my first time back doing anything skating-related [since my injuries]. To be back to a world that I once knew so well is fun for me, strange but fun. I don’t know how much more I’ll skate after this, so I’m just enjoying being on the ice and being a part of the tour again. Possibly having some punctuation to the end of a career.
TS: Be honest: Is skating something you still truly enjoy, even though you aren’t competing? Do you like being on tour?
EL: I think I’ll always enjoy it. I’m a fan of the sport. It was my first true love and I like being on tour a lot. I should say, I like being on tour with Stars On Ice. There’s a lot of ice shows out there, tons of them, and Stars On Ice is a little bit more of an elevated show. There’s some history, some classicism there with the skaters who founded it. So to be asked to do it is an honor. It’s a prestigious show. I have fun, but because it is Stars On Ice, it’s challenging. We challenge each other. You’ll see harder tricks than any other skating show.
TS: But it’s not something you could see yourself doing forever. I’ve read that you recently started working as a real estate agent with Charter Realty & Development Corp. in New York.
EL: After I was injured and knew I wouldn’t be competing in Sochi, it was a heartbreaking process for me. I just needed to get away from skating and heal emotionally. I didn’t skate for seven months. I’ve always liked real estate and architecture, and I’m interested in product and retail. So I work on commercial and big-box retail, shopping centers. I mostly do property landlord rep., sometimes rep. and development, but it’s something I was always interested in. Charter is a great company. I’ve learned a lot.
TS: How do you like living in New York?
EL: I’m from Chicago. I was in L.A. for almost 12 years, so my blood thinned, but I like it. I think New York is a challenging city in some ways, which is good for me starting a new chapter in my life, to have that challenge of a new location, a new environment, new people. It just enhances that experience of starting over.
TS: If you never get back into competitive figure skating, will you be satisfied?
EL: Oh, yeah. I’m really satisfied with what I’ve achieved in my career. I don’t think there’s any title I don’t have. It’s just that I loved doing it. I loved competing and I loved training. I put that same kind of pressure on myself with Stars On Ice, just to be in top form. So it’s something that I’ll miss. I’ll miss that energy and that atmosphere. Of course, in business you’re constantly competing, so I can satisfy that in other ways.