Jeremy Abbott competes in the Men's Short Program during the 2013… (Jonathan Daniel / Getty…)
OMAHA — It had to crush Evan Lysacek to be sitting in a suite rather than competing, which he had hoped to do until undergoing surgery for a hernia in November.
A healthy Lysacek could have gotten on the ice while dressed in the suit he was wearing Friday and beaten the sloppy short program performances in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships that unfolded in front of him at CenturyLink Arena.
It got so awful at times, with five falls in one six-skater stretch, that there was no need for a Zamboni to clean the ice. It wasn't all horrible, even if there was little memorable.
Defending champion Jeremy Abbott took the lead (84.10 points) with a respectable if uninspired performance after a wonky initial combination of triple jumps. Ross Miner was barely three points behind (80.99) after stringing together strong elements, but he had little connection between them or between him and the music.
Joshua Farris, who had finished the 2011 championships despite breaking a leg bone in the long program, was third at 79.78.
All that noise about how reigning Olympic champion Lysacek couldn't compete with the current quad squadders seemed a little silly (at least in domestic terms) after none of the top three landed a clean quadruple jump, and only Miner tried one.
The men's event had begun with an exclamation as Max Aaron, first of 20 competitors, hit a quadruple salchow-triple toe loop combination. Unfortunately, the rest of Aaron's program devolved, including a botched final spin that left Aaron fourth at 79.13.
Abbott was trying to forget a season full of struggles linked in part to back problems. He took the quad out of his short program because he knew it wasn't worth risking further injury.
"My focus was just to do the best I could for now and move on to the worlds and make some magic happen there," Abbott said.
Earlier Friday, the most successful U.S. ice dance team in history, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, reached part one of a foregone conclusion — title No. 5 — by running up an 8.22-point lead over Madison Chock and Evan Bates after the short dance.