U.S. State Department Names Lysacek as Sports Diplomat
By Raymond Rolak
The 2010 Olympic gold medalist in menâ€™s figure skating, Evan Lysacek, has left for Europe to be a sports ambassador in association with the U.S. Department of Stateâ€™s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He will visit Stockholm, Sweden, and Minsk, Belarus.
Lysacek won the gold medal in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games and was named the U.S. Olympic Committeeâ€™s Sportsman of the Year in 2010. That year he was also named the Amateur Athletic Unionâ€™s Sullivan Award winner, given to the most outstanding U.S. amateur athlete of the year. The prestigious honor is given for accomplishments, leadership skills, character and sportsmanship. Lysacek did not compete in the U.S. Nationals this year.
While in Sweden, Lysacek will hold ice skating clinics, organized in cooperation with the non-governmental organization, Sports Without Borders. He will conduct clinics with the Skating Union of Belarus in Minsk and speak with students at the University of Physical Culture about the importance of sports in society.
The trip to Sweden will give him a chance to visit old friend Natalia Lopatniuk-Brzezinski. They used to skate together in Chicago. Lopatniuk-Brezinski is the wife of new U.S. ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski. Mark Brzezinski wrote the 2000 book â€œThe Struggle for Constitutionalism in Poland.â€
Earlier this month, while in Boston, Lysacek spoke about his upcoming trip before the Skating Club of Bostonâ€™s Ice Chips show. Lysacek was the headliner at Harvardâ€™s Bright Arena during the 100th Anniversary of the famed skating clubâ€™s showcase and extravaganza. Fittingly, the theme of this yearâ€™s production was â€˜100 Years of Excellenceâ€™. â€œIâ€™ve been checking the weather in Sweden and Belarus every day,â€ he said. One of the choreographers for the giant ice extravaganza was Tom Lescinski. Lysacek used New York based fashion designer Vera Wang for his costumes.
â€œAs a figure skater, I have always been proud to represent the United States at competitions around the world,â€ Lysacek said. â€œI am honored to be named a Sports Envoy and look forward to supporting the goals set by Secretary (Hillary) Clinton through sports diplomacy.â€
Spokesperson Shep Goldberg of Northville, Michigan said Lysacek had recently given clinics in Saudi Arabia to overwhelming crowds.
Lysacek has said in skating circles that the 2014 Olympics were his next big goal. The U.S. Figure Skating Association and Lysacek were recently at odds over endorsement contracts regarding product category sponsorships. He is scheduled to perform at Kim Yu-Naâ€™s ice show in South Korea this May. Yu-Na was the womenâ€™s 2010 Olympic gold medalist and is a pivotal spokesperson for South Koreaâ€™s efforts in hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Michele Kwan was the most recent figure skater who served as a public diplomacy ambassador for the State Department. Since 2005, the U.S. has sent more than 200 U.S. athletes to over 50 countries to participate as Sports Envoyâ€™s in their Sports United programs.