Quick Stats: Evan Lysacek, 2010 Olympic figure skating champion
Daily Driver: 2011 Audi R8 (Evan's rating: 8 on a scale of 1 to 10)
Other cars: see below
Favorite road trip: Chicago to Los Angeles
Car he learned to drive in: 2003 Infiniti I35
First car bought: 2003 Infiniti I35
With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia just three months away, the figure skating world has been abuzz wondering whether reigning gold medalist Evan Lysacek will be able to fully recover from injuries in time.
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January are the qualifier for the Olympic team, and since Lysacek was the first American man to win Olympic gold in the sport since Brian Boitano's 1988 win, it's no wonder fans are rooting for him to be able to defend his title.
When Lysacek isn't training in Los Angeles, he is busy going to events for sponsors including Ralph Lauren and traveling the world as a sports envoy for the U.S. State Department.
After a recent grueling day of training, Lysacek spoke to Motor Trend about his cars. We found out that if Lysacek had gone with his early childhood passion, the world might not have seen him on the ice, but rather on a racetrack. But when he was growing up near Chicago, he says he didn't know how to get into auto racing.
"Honestly, I don't know if I've ever been as excited for an interview as this one, to get to just talk about cars," he tells Motor Trend. "I've been obsessed since I was a kid. When I was a kid I had thousands and thousands of Matchbox cars and I played with them all the time, and then I graduated to those model cars that you could build. I was so obsessed with Formula 1 racing. My parents thought I was going to be a race car driver because I was that into it."
Lysacek still follows F1 and watches races on TV. "It's my favorite. I'll cancel everything," he says. "I'll call in sick to training. It's the only time I'll do it, is when there's a race on. It's been fun this season to watch."
As a kid, the highlight of Lysacek's year was going to the Chicago Auto Show annually with his dad and being able to sit in all the new cars. "They give you the little pamphlets about all the new cars and I would take them home and read through all of them. Anytime I had to do a school project or talk about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said I wanted to be a race car driver. But I think it's a hard sport to get into. I don't know where you would even begin for a kid who wants to get involved in the sport."
Luckily though, Lysacek's Olympic gold medal and success on the ice has given him the opportunity to buy and sell cars and drive some of the best supercars.
For daily driving, Lysacek switches between a black 2011 Audi R8 and a black 2013 Mercedes-Benz G63.
2011 Audi R8
"I drive it hard. I drive it like it's an F-150 truck. I stuff it full of all my skating stuff. It's been a great, very reliable car for me," he says. "I like it a lot. I'm into a very tough aesthetic, so I like the black wheels. I'm not into fancy. I'm not a fancy guy -- I like a very tough looking car."
Lysacek got a white R8 a year after winning gold at the Vancouver Olympics and later swapped it for his current black R8, which he had customized at Platinum Motorsport in Los Angeles.
"I've always had black cars and I loved the way the white one looked with the black carbon-fiber side blades," he says. "I went on a skating tour across the country and then I did 'Dancing With the Stars' right after, so I was working all the time. After that it was like, 'Man, I earned this car. I'm getting whatever car I want.' So I chose that. Like anything that's not totally you, I think I got sick of it and then I got the black and I love the black, it's so stealth."
There are some things that he doesn't like about the R8. "The gearbox is a tad jerky driving in the city, with all the stop signs I have to go through, but overall performance is great," he says, of the R tronic transmission. "It's plenty of power for me. It's a smooth enough ride and a quiet enough cabin. A lot of those exotics or supercars, they're pretty loud. This engine is somewhat tame, although I have a custom exhaust on it, so it's a little louder than your average one."
A couple of years ago, Lysacek regularly commuted from Los Angeles to Lake Arrowhead, which is about two hours away, so that he could train at a higher altitude. He loved the hairpin turns driving the R8 in the mountains.
"Everyone else had trucks up there and I was the only crazy that would drive up in my R8," he says. "It was the highlight of my day to finish a long training session and be able to rev it up back down the mountain."
Besides driving the Audi hard through the mountains, Lysacek likens his R8 to an F-150 because he's able to pack in all his skating equipment. "I carry a lot of stuff with me through out the day -- I have my skates, my skate bag is big, I have tons of warm clothes because it's freezing in the rink and there's just a lot of paraphernalia that comes along with being a skater."
2013 Mercedes G63
Lysacek also loves his newer ride, a G63. "I drove the G55 they had before and I've had a lot of Range Rovers in my lifetime. I always preferred the Range Rover to the G-Class, until this latest model. Then I drove the new Range Rover and this new G63 and I really, really, really love it. It's still a very stiff ride. It's extremely fast, but for people who drive in the city like me, there's an Eco button, so you're not guzzling gas way that the old one does. But then if you want to light it up, put it in Sport mode and it is a beast."
He said he always thought the G-Class was a very cool, very tough-looking vehicle. "The styling is great," he says. "The new engine is absolutely awesome."
But he won't give it a perfect 10 because "you need to have a chiropractor on speed dial when you drive it too much, because it's very bumpy."
Lysacek's love for all things automotive is well-known among his friends. "I'm their go-to car guy. If they want to go car shopping, I'll go with them. I've had a lot of cars and I would buy and sell them. I think there's a lot cheaper hobbies I could get into than buying and selling cars," he says. "But I've always loved them."
One of his sponsors is Ralph Lauren, and in 2011 Lysacek flew to Paris to see Lauren's cars on exhibit at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs. "It was incredible, and gave me a new appreciation for the sculptural element of a car," he says. "Each one is meticulously restored to perfection."
Photo: United States Olympic Committee