DALLAS - Evan Lysacek and Nastia Liukin share an experience that has turned each into an emotional bulwark for the other’s Olympic comeback.
“When you go to the Olympic Games and win, no one understands what you are going through afterward except someone else who has done it,” Liukin said. “I’m very excited for Evan, and it’s great to have his support and to have someone who knows exactly what I am going through.”
When Liukin, the 2008 Olympic gymnastics all-around champion, showed up in Vancouver two years later as Lysacek was winning the figure skating gold, the celebrity-driven press had them dating.
Liukin, who said she last spoke with Lysacek “about three days ago,” declined to define the nature of their relationship Monday at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit. “It’s my personal life,” she said.
Lysacek, 26, has not competed since the 2010 Olympics. His comeback plan for last season ran afoul of a contractual dispute with U.S. Figure Skating, but he has been training intensively for more than a year with a shot at the 2014 Olympics in mind.
“He trains like a maniac all the time,” Liukin said.
Liukin, 22, seeking a spot at the 2012 Olympics, has been back to serious training for about six months. Her last competition was the U.S. Championships in the summer of 2009. She plans to return at the May 26 Secret U.S. Classic at the UIC Pavilion.
Since Beijing, Liukin has become prominent in one of Subway’s televised commercial campaigns, was a guest star on the short-lived TV show “Hellcats” and did a cameo on"Gossip Girl."After Vancouver, Lysacek amped up his image by finishing second on "Dancing With The Stars."
Going from that dazzle back to the gym and rink can be a shock to the system.
“Evan has been telling me to keep calm, which I am not very good at,” Liukin said. “I’m always thinking about the future or next month instead of taking things one day at a time.
“So much of coming back is about having faith in yourself. You can’t get wrapped up in the moment.”
Even a golden one from the past.