First car bought
Since Lysacek was always busy training when he was a teenager, he couldn't take drivers' ed. He didn't get his license until right before he turned 18 and was getting ready to move to Los Angeles.
Most of Lysacek's early driving experiences were in Los Angeles "on these crazy streets and freeways here" he says, in his 2003 Infiniti I35.
"I was very practical. I looked at everything when I was buying my very first car. I looked at BMW, Mercedes, and then I drove an Infiniti I35. It was like, I can get every option," he says. "This was when navigation was a really big deal. I filled it up with my stuff, drove it across the country, moved to L.A. and drove it and just ripped around L.A. in that little car. And somehow it held up, thank God."
Lysacek bought the Infiniti with prize money he won from skating competitively since he was 13. "My parents were very strict. They never gave me one penny of it; they put it away in savings," he says. "Finally when I was turning 18, they said, 'You can take a small amount and choose what car you want.' They gave me a serious budget. So that's why I was trying to get the most that I could for my money."
Lysacek's mom drove from Chicago to Los Angeles with him after he graduated from high school. He had three days to get to California in time for summer training camp.
"We were pushing it. We were trying to make it to Salt Lake City. Somewhere in Colorado, we saw a sign that said, 'No gas for 50 miles,'" he says. "This was a brand-new car. I had maybe driven it a couple weeks and I didn't know what the range was or how to find it on the digital system on the car. I thought, I'm sure I have 50 miles left. After about 30 miles the car ran out of gas."
"At the time my mom was driving and she was like, 'I have a great idea, let's go as fast as we can and pass as many of these truckers, because we're going to have to flag them down, so the more people we pass the more chances we have to flag someone down.' So my mom was ripping it at 100 mph across the state of Utah and finally we ran out and she was right."
They were stranded. The sun was setting. They got out and started flagging cars and someone stopped to pick them up. "My mom was like, 'Evan, you have to come get gas, what if something happens to you. It's not safe to be parked by the side of the road!' I said, 'No mom, I'm not leaving my car!' he laughs. "I wouldn't leave my car, so I sat there in the car and waited while they went and got gas and came back."
Favorite road trip
Lysacek has enjoyed many road trips. He says that drive from Chicago to Los Angeles was exciting because of he was starting a new chapter in his life to seriously train for the Olympics.
But he also loves the drive to Lake Arrowhead. "Highway 18 is totally hairpin turns. You'd think you're driving in the Alps in Europe," Lysacek says. "So it was fun for me. I enjoyed that and appreciated being able to drive on that road everyday. But it did get a little tiring, if you're exhausted after training."
He started high-altitude training at Lake Arrowhead at the end of 2011, in preparation for the 2014 Olympics. The altitude helps with lung capacity and builds stamina. "It goes so quickly, four years. So you're always preparing, gearing up," he says.
The drive he finds most relaxing is cruising up Pacific Coast Highway to visit friends in Malibu. "I can have rolling hills on my right side and the ocean on my left and roll the windows down and hear the waves and the ocean breeze," he says. "That is a very relaxing drive to me."
Lysacek's typical day as an Olympic figure skater can vary from a short seven-hour day at the rink, to a long 12-hour day that begins at 7 a.m. And it's usually six days a week of training.
"The training is brutal. I am the only one that's there that early and I train with other really high-level skaters. In the rink adjacent to ours in the building, the L.A. Kings train," he says, of the Toyota Sports Center. "The Lakers train in the same facility as well, so I'm surrounded by really great athletes throughout the day. So there are great athletes there to push me."
On the ice, Lysacek's hope is to "outwork" the competition. "That's always a motto and a goal of mine," he says. "So sometimes it's just sheer hours that I'm putting in."
But being an Olympic champion means he has a lot of other obligations. "Most weeks, I'll train all week and on Friday night I'll take a flight out and go work somewhere, whether I'm working for a sponsor or doing a speaking engagement, or knocking a photo shoot out."
After a weekend of work, he flies back to Los Angeles in time to start training on Monday morning. "It's sort of balancing two careers—one is obviously the athletic side of it and the physicality of what I do. Then there's the other side of it that's more of the business side, working with sponsors, photo shoots, and other obligations. I work with the U.S. State Department as a sports envoy, so there's times I'm traveling in an official capacity for the government. There's a lot going on."
Even though figure skating is one of the most popular winter Olympic sports, Lysacek says most people don't know what goes into being a figure skater.
"The truth is, it is a brutal sport. What it takes is brutal; the strain on the body is brutal; the mental toughness that's required is incredible," he says. "It is a difficult sport -- I would say among the toughest."
Despite speculation on whether the torn labrum in his left hip can properly heal in time for him to qualify for Sochi, Lysacek keeps busy. He has at least one international competition to enter before the end of the year and continues to train for nationals in January.
Lysacek recently debuted the Ralph Lauren Closing Ceremonies uniform, which went on sale for anyone to buy Nov. 15 at RalphLauren.com. He also taped a touching video with his mom, along with other Olympians in Procter and Gamble's "Raising an Olympian" film series for the company's Sochi 2014 "Thank You, Mom" campaign, which can be seen online.
Lysacek is also actively supporting Citibank's Figure Skating in Harlem program, which combines figure skating and academics to help empower girls in New York City's underserved areas and by clicking on the link, Citibank will donate money to help reach Lysacek's goal of raising $50,000.