- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Nastia Liukin has been to plenty of world championships. None quite like this, however.

The Olympic champion got to see what the view is like from the spectator seats Thursday night when she came to the World Figure Skating Championships to root on fellow American Evan Lysacek. Liukin got to know several of the U.S. skaters during a made-for-television skating and gymnastics show last December.

“It’s so cool to be here,” said Liukin, who was in town for a photo shoot. “I’ve never been to an actual skating competition. I’m nervous! It’s so different. When you’re out there on the floor (competing), you’re nervous. But when you’re a spectator, you have no control over what’s going on. I don’t know how they feel, what’s going on in their heads.”

Lysacek, in second place after the short program, performed superbly in the free skate to win his first world title. Liukin couldn’t have been more thrilled if she had done it herself.

“He did amazing,” she said.

Lysacek skated second-to-last. Liukin, the second-to-last competitor in the final event at the Beijing Games, beat teammate Shawn Johnson for the gold medal.

Though Liukin has been around skaters before, watching a competition was much different.

“I hate not knowing the rules,” she said.

She’ll be back in her own element soon enough, though. She’s training full-time again, looking for music for a new floor routine _ her skating friends have given her a few suggestions _ and learning new skills. Last week she went to her third national team training camp at the Karolyi ranch outside of Houston.

The national championships are in her hometown of Dallas in August. The world championships _ the gymnastics version _ are in London in October.

“As much as I love what I’m doing, I truly love going to camp and being part of the national team and being treated like everyone else,” she said.

She loves competing, too, and just might do it for four more years. When Nastia and her father and coach, Valeri, were talking the other day about what skills to put in her uneven bars, he mentioned the 2012 Olympics. It would mean a big sacrifice again, but Liukin’s face lit up when she talked about the possibility of going to another games.

The entire Beijing experience was “so great,” she said, why would she not want to do it again?

“Gymnastics is definitely what I have a passion for and I still have a passion for it even though I’ve achieved my hopes and goals and dreams,” she said. “I’m not thinking ahead of 2012, but I’m definitely thinking about 2012.”

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