Skater Lysacek: ‘Michelle Kwan is a total Yoda’

/ Source: TODAY staff

U.S. National Champion figure skater and Vancouver 2010 candidate Evan Lysacek will not be caught dead in a sequined skating getup from Russia — but he will wear Dior and bring his quad to competition. Here, the stylish 24-year old athlete from Illinois answers reader questions about fashion, his heroes, and the famed quadruple jump.

Q: Do you think a skater has to have an unusual inner talent for skating to get where you are, or can it be learned? Good luck in 2010! -Carol Helfrick, Grand Rapids, Mich.

A: When I first started skating I had no talent at all. I had no feel for the ice. It takes your body a while to adjust. I wasn’t like a natural, which you hear a lot of skaters say. It was something that I learned.

More important than talent or anything is your heart. You're either born with the heart of an athlete or not, because in sports you go through so much adversity. You want to quit. In any sport — in soccer or baseball — you have a bad day and you want to quit. But the most important thing is to be persistent.

Q: I am a huge fan of figure skating — have been for years. I was able to catch you on the TODAY show – it was a great performance, by the way. I was wondering if you get dizzy from the spin turns that you do? -Suzie, Wichita, Kan.

A: A lot of the spins and turns happen so quickly — it's like when you go upside down on a roller coaster and it happens so fast that you don’t have that second of thinking, 'I'm upside-down.'

The jumps happen in like a quarter of a second; a quad is a split-second jump. And in the spins you spin so fast that everything is just a blur; you don't see anything go by.

The stuff that I get dizzy on is the simpler turns when you're turning slower, and you actually do seeing things going around. But I have to admit we all say when we skate at Rockefeller we get a little dizzy because there is so much going on around you when you look up! [ Sorry, Evan!]

Q: Are you planning to do the quad in both your short and long programs at Worlds [March 22-29 in L.A.]? -Emily, Perrysburg, Ohio

A: Yes, I'm planning to do it in my long at Worlds. It’s a really challenging jump and it's just really dangerous. When you get nervous or tense a little bit you tend to hold back a and not go for it all the way, but if you don’t go through with the jump all the way you end up at an off angle or under-rotation. That’s when you fall really hard and get injured really easily. But yes, it's definitely in for Worlds.

Evan Lysacek from the United States, performs his free skate program in the men's competition at the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, Saturday, Feb. 7, 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)Paul Chiasson / CP

Q: Do you think having the quad is the only way to win the gold medal? -Ann Pettey, Bolingbrook, Ill.

A: The quad is the future of our sport. Our judging system has become so technically driven that we have to now focus on the technique and push the envelope.

We've lost our six-point scale of judging. The "6.0" was such a huge brand for our sport and we lost that brand when we lost that system. One brand we have now is the quad; it's the only thing that’s recognizable to anyone, whether they know skating or not.

If you're not moving forward and trying to push yourself beyond your own limit, then you're holding everyone else back. I don’t think it would be as satisfying if I skate great without it. We're trying to take the sport to a whole new level.

Q: How do you balance and find time for skating and other off-ice interests and friends? -Kim, State College, Pa.

A: It's difficult to balance it, actually. I'm still experimenting and learning and growing.

Q: Who's your costume designer? I like the "James Bond" look on you. -Maria Enderby, Williamsville, N.Y.

A: I've been really lucky; I've worn runway designs from Gianfranco Ferre, Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen and this year I was sort of in a panic because I was getting these costumes sent to me from Russia that were totally not my style. They were overdone as far as sequins and glitz — just tacky to me.

Q: Who's your favorite fashion designer? –Lauren, New York City

A: Hedi Slimane, the guy who designs for Yves Saint Laurent.

When I'm training I wear this one brand — it's sports gear but it has a design element. It's by Yohji Yamamoto. He has a sports line that's collaboration with Adidas called Y-3. It's awesome. I have this one lucky jacket; it's black with a white Y-3 e on it. Three is my lucky number. When I compete I do everything three times — stretch my quads three times, walk through my routine three times.

I'd love to have Yohji Yamamoto design something for me. Maybe next year!

Q: Who would you say your hero in skating is? -Alyssa Nuernberger, Medford, Wis.

A: Scott Hamilton is a hero of mine. He did so much on the ice. He was an Olympic champion from the U.S., which is amazing. He has a similar style to mine, really athletic, but he lets the focus be on skating.

When he turned professional … He wanted to be packaged as an individual personality on the ice. He was the first to wear golf gear to skate or wear a rock wig. He was so inventive and so creative but all in a very masculine way. He's an entertainer and an athlete, which is the greatest combination.

Michelle Kwan, too, because I train with her sometimes. She's been through so many experiences in skating … she was so dominant in the sport for such a long time. At Nationals she was giving me advice leading up to the competition, because she's been there. She just always says the right thing. She's a total Yoda. I love skating with her still; we have the same taste in music, too.

Q: Do you two jam out on the ice? –

A: Yeah, we do, totally.

Q: Anything else you want to add? –

A: I love the TODAY show. I watch it every day. Not the whole thing, because I have to get ready and go to the rink. It has the morning vibe.

Q: Are you a morning person? –

A: No, not at all. God, no.