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Lysacek ecstatic with gold; Plushenko sulks with silver

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Time and again, Evan Lysacek was grilled about Evgeni Plushenko slamming his performance and quibbling about the quad, how even government leaders in Russia are crying foul over the finish in the men's final. Time and again, Lysacek sidestepped the bickering.

Nothing the American said would be better than the answer hanging around his neck.

"All I know is he's been really positive to me and been a really consistent skater through the years, and I've tried to learn from that," Lysacek said Friday morning, still basking in the glow of his Olympic gold medal. "I guess I'm a little disappointed someone who I saw as my role model would take a hit at me in one of the most special moments of my life.

"We'll just try not to take it out of context and give him the benefit of the doubt. And congratulations to him on his third Olympic medal."

Lysacek became the first American man since Brian Boitano in 1988 to win the Olympic gold Thursday night, taking down reigning champ Plushenko. Though Lysacek is the world champion, it was an upset the likes of which figure skating rarely sees.

Plushenko, who ended a three-year retirement with the sole goal of winning gold, hadn't finished anywhere but first since the 2004 European championships. He was the defending Olympic gold medalist and silver medalist in 2002, and a three-time world champion.

And Plushenko had the all-important quad, the four-revolution jump that's been a must-have for every Olympic men's champion since Ilia Kulik in 1998.

"Quad is quad. If the Olympic champion doesn't know how to jump the quad, I don't know," Plushenko sniffed afterward. "Now it's not men's figure skating; now it's dancing. That's my point."

Yet Lysacek beat the Russian - handily. Lysacek's career-best 257.67 points was 1.31 better than Plushenko. Even more grating to the Russian's camp, Lysacek beat Plushenko on the technical mark, the score for jumps, spins and footwork that's practically been his personal property.

Though Lysacek said Plushenko congratulated him and Plushenko himself said later he was satisfied with his silver, others weren't quite so restrained.

One broadcaster at RTR, the state-owned Russian television, likened the result to the 2002 pairs scandal in Salt Lake City, where the judging shenanigans were so bad that duplicate gold medals were awarded. Another called Plushenko "the real champion." Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin weighed in, sending Plushenko a message Friday saying his performance was worth gold.

But Lysacek refused to join in the war of words.

"All I could do is stay true to myself and go in with the formula I believed in and believed would work for me," he said. "Each step wasn't planned to win this gold medal."

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