Evan Lysacek might not have had the quadruple jump in his arsenal, but he had everything else down perfectly. And when Russian Evgeni Plushenko gave an uneven performance between his jumps, that was all that Lysacek needed in the Olympic long program Thursday night in Pacific Coliseum.
Lysacek's marks stood up ahead of Plushenko's, and that made him the first American gold medalist in men's figure skating since Brian Boitano in 1988 at Calgary.
The margin of victory was narrow, with Lysacek totaling 167.37 points to 165.51 for Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic champion. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi wound up third.
"I couldn't have asked for much more than that," Lysacek said. "To get a personal best in the most important moment of my life — you dream about it. It was definitely my best, and it was what I came here to do."
Patrick Chan, the Canadian national champion now training in Colorado Springs, skated strongly except for a fall on a triple axel, and the 19-year-old moved up from seventh after the short program to fifth overall. That was just ahead of American Johnny Weir, who won over the crowd but not the judges.
The current American champion, former longtime Colorado Springs resident Jeremy Abbott, bounced back from his disastrous short program and climbed from 15th to a ninth-place finish.
Lysacek's victory also meant the first career gold medal for his coach, 71-year-old Frank Carroll, who came up just short several times in the past with the likes of Michelle Kwan and Linda Fratianne.
And the United States added to its lead in the medal standings, now with 18 in all (six gold, five silver, seven bronze) to Germany's 11. That U.S. total went up by four Thursday, also including Julia Mancuso's silver in the ladies super combined and the silver-bronze finish by Hannah Teter and Kelly Clark, respectively, in the ladies halfpipe.