Evan Lysacek not only earned a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics, he solidified the respect of some of the world's legendary skaters.
Dick Button and Scott Hamilton have nothing but praise for the young figure skating star, though they both had their eye on Lysacek long before his Olympic feat.
The two men who served as analysts for NBC during the Vancouver games are Olympic gold medalists themselves and have been watching Lysacek come up through the ranks.
"I respect Evan and I like him as a friend and I'm so happy for him," Hamilton said. "He's the newest member of the club."
Lysacek's work ethic sets him apart, Hamilton says, and while other skaters got burned out over the years, Evan just got stronger.
Button has seen quite a few skating performances in his day and said many don't stick with the audience. Evan's do.
He is "elegant, long-limbed, smooth, has wonderful, interesting choreographic moves and is a delightful, hardworking, hard-edged competitor," Button effused, adding adjectives like sincere and sweet.
Exchanging e-mails with Lysacek last summer, Hamilton said he could tell that the enormity of the upcoming Games was starting to concern the 24-year-old competitor.
"I told him the best way to approach that is to eliminate all the would haves, could haves, should haves," Hamilton said. "Every day at training, put everything you possibly can into every day and when you step on the ice at the Olympics know you've done everything you can do to prepare and let it go."
To those watching Lysacek practice during the Olympics it was obvious he had heeded his mentor's advice. Hamilton said he and others watched in admiration as Lysacek skated his program during practices and did so as if judges were watching.
"Evan gave us a pure understanding of what he was going to deliver in competition every single time he practiced," Hamilton said. "That was extraordinary."
The practice paid off and Lysacek bested defending champ Evgeni Plushenko of Russia by 1.31 points to secure the top spot on the podium.
Plushenko slammed the judges' decision in the days after the competition and criticized Lysacek for not doing a quadruple jump during his skate.
Hamilton and Button both say the right man took home the gold. Plushenko, they said, used a program from four years ago and did not take into account more recent changes in rules and scoring.
"Even though (Lysacek) didn't have the big huge quad like Evgeni did, he had the rest of it," Hamilton said. "It's about the whole performance not about the first minute and a half. - Evan truly understood to win he had to draw on every single second of the program."
Button said Plushenko was "tentatively lazy and arrogant about his performance" while Lysacek "did all the technical things and he did them well."
"The end result is (Lysacek) worked the rules beautifully, understood them, made them work for him," Button said. "He didn't hold back and that's what Plushenko did."
Asked what he thinks is next for Lysacek, Button replied, "Whatever he wants."
"I truly am both respectful of him and happy for him and pleased as punch he won because boy did he work for it," Button said. "He proved himself to be a magnificent skater and magnificent athlete and on top of that a magnificent competitor. I hope he has great success in whatever is the next stage of his career."
Hamilton said he looks at the Olympics like a four-year college experience and Lysacek just graduated as valedictorian. He would like to see the new champion build his own identity and not be afraid to go in a new direction.
"I hope he can take the experience and success and parlay it into something that makes a huge impact beyond what he's done," Hamilton said. "I'm so proud of him."