12:45 PM EDT, October 15, 2011
U.S. Figure Skating said financial issues between Evan Lysacek and the federation led the reigning Olympic champion to withdraw from Skate America Friday.
"Evan wasn't satisfied with our athlete contract," said Barb Reichert, USFS communications director. "Therefore, he has decided not to compete on the Grand Prix circuit."
Reichert confirmed the problems involved money.
In text messages to me early Saturday morning, Lysacek declined comment on details of the issues between him and USFS but said they had not affected his training.
"I am in the best shape of my life," he said. "I'll continue to train with the hope an agreement can be reached by the U.S. Championships."
On his web site, Lysacek posted a statement in which he said, "I'm extremely disappointed in this turn of events."
Top skaters often received high six-figure contracts from USFS in the days when the federation was flush with television money. Those contracts included participation in events like Skate America.
Lysacek announced three weeks ago he was making a comeback with the 2014 Olympics in mind.
But the first competitive step in that comeback won't be at Skate America, despite U.S. Figure Skating's advertising to that effect.
USFS sent a release Friday with the expected news that Lysacek would not be skating at the the opening event of the Grand Prix season, which runs next Friday through Sunday (Oct. 21-23) in Ontario, Calif.
His coach, Frank Carroll, told me Friday afternoon by telephone that Lysacek is in "perfect shape" but is not competing at Skate America because "he could not come to an agreement with U.S. Figure Skating."
The coach also did not know whether the issues with the federation would have any impact on Lysacek's comeback plans.
"We respect Evan's decision," U.S. Figure Skating executive director David Raith said in the release. "We will continue to support Evan as he works toward the 2014 Olympic Winter Games."
As a reigning Olympic medalist, Lysacek has a bye into January's U.S. Championships. According to Reichert, he must let the federation know 60 days before the event if he intends to compete.
For weeks, anyone who went to the federation's web site, usfsa.org, was greeted by a page with a picture of Lysacek as part of an advertisement to buy tickets for Skate America and the U.S. Championships in January.
That page has disappeared but other ads remained today. One included the picture above.
Lysacek's only commitment to Skate America had been letting USFS enter him.
When I told Lysacek about the web ad during a recent interview, when he first revealed that Sochi was his goal, the 2010 Olympic champion was surprised.
“That’s bold,” Lysacek said of the promotion. “The reason I haven’t made any grand statements about coming back and being there is because I don’t want to be the one responsible for anyone’s disappointment. All I have said, even to them (the federation), is that I am training, and I would like to be in shape for it.
“That’s the only statement I can make at this point. They can take it and run with it in whatever direction they want to run."
Carroll said Lysacek had fully recovered from a left foot injury that occurred a month ago.
"Evan is very happy with the way he is skating," Carroll said.
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