Evan Lysacek, Olympic Gold Medalist, Figure Skating
The reigning Olympic champion, Evan Lysacek captured the gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada, the first American in 24 years to hold the prestigious title. Together with his Olympic victory, Lysacek has won 10 major titles including a World championship (2009), two U.S. championships (2007, 2008) and the Grand Prix Final (2009), making him the most decorated U.S. male skater of the past decade.
What got you started in your sport?
From my earliest memories I have always loved sports. Growing up in suburban Chicago I idolized the Chicago Blackhawks and had aspirations to play hockey. But I was a terrible skater, very clumsy and disoriented on the ice. So I started taking basic figure skating classes with my older sister but I hated it. I would beg and plead with my mom to let me quit but she encouraged me to stick with it. Slowly I began getting the hang of skating. And once I got enough stability on the ice to go fast, I fell in love with the sport. And to this day the speed is what I love most about figure skating.
What advice would you give to students about following their passion/their dreams?
There are no shortcuts or secrets to success in skating or in any other field. If you want to reach a level of real achievement, hard work is the only way to get there. Whether or not you get exactly where you want to go or the course changes along the way, you will never regret working hard.
How do you give back?
I give back to my community on several different levels. First, I try to be the best citizen that I can possibly be every day. That means treating people with respect; being honest, loyal and hardworking. I live, work and succeed by a code of ethics. I also work with charitable foundations such as Figure Skating in Harlem, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Make-A-Wish Foundation. On a national level I give back to my country by serving as a Sports Envoy for the U.S. State Department. In that capacity I travel to other countries and speak to young people on the importance of education, positive health practices and respect for diversity.