There will be a new men's figure skating champion at the Winter Olympics after reigning gold medalist Evan Lysacek announced he will be unable to compete in the 2014 edition.
The 28-year-old revealed that a hip injury will prevent him from defending his gold medal in a statement on U.S. Figure Skating's official website:
Words cannot describe how disappointed I am to not be able to compete in Sochi. The proudest moments of my life have been representing the United States in the last two Winter Olympics. I have suffered numerous injuries over the course of my skating career and they are some of the hardest things an athlete has to overcome. While none of my past injuries have sidelined me quite like this one, I remain determined to regain my health and skate again.
Lysacek also took to Twitter to thank his supporters.
Thank You all for your continued support. Your kind words are helping me stay strong right now.— Evan Lysacek (@EvanLysacek) December 10, 2013
At his age, it would have been hard enough for the figure skating star to repeat as winner—or win any sort of medal at all, for that matter. When you throw in everything else Lysacek has had to deal with since winning in Vancouver, his return was made impossible.
As Liz Clarke of The Washington Post reported, the news isn't much of a surprise after the amount of injuries from which the figure skater had been suffering recently. Those injuries robbed him of getting on the ice for any prolonged period, and Lysacek didn't have much time left with which to earn a spot on the United States team. In addition, if he continued skating, he could risk permanent injury.
When Lysacek won gold in 2010, he was the first American male figure skater to do so since 1988, when Brian Boitano reigned supreme in Calgary.
Without Lysacek on the team, the best chance for an American to medal in the men's singles is Jeremy Abbott, Max Aaron and Ross Miner.
Abbott is a three-time winner of the U.S. Championships, while Aaron finished first and Miner second at the 2013 Championships.
In any case, it may be a long time before another American figure skater is able to duplicate the success of Lysacek.