Evan Lysacek

Evan Lysacek's journey to men's figure skating gold included more than a little jesting — and even outright criticism — from defending Olympic champ Evgeni Plushenko.

Plushenko jokingly stepped to the top spot on the medal platform before allowing Lysacek — the first American to win gold in men's figure skating since Brian Boitano in 1988 — to claim his rightful place.

Video: Evan Lysacek wins the gold

"I was positive I had won," Plushenko told ESPN. "But I suppose Evan needs a gold medal more than I do because I already have one." Plushenko came out of a three-year retirement in an attempt to tie Dick Button's 1948-1952 back-to-back Olympic gold medal record.

Plushenko held the lead after the short program. While his front-loaded free skate was packed with jumps, including one quad, judges gave Lysacek points for better execution and more sophisticated choreography. Plushenko criticized Lysacek, who was battling a foot injury, for not attempting a quad in his gold medal-winning program. "If [the] Olympic champion doesn't know how to jump a quad, it isn't men's figure skating, it's men's ice dancing," Plushenko said.

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"If it were a jumping competition, they would give you 10 seconds to run and do your best jump," Lysacek said. "But it's a four-minute, 40-second program, and it's about sustaining that level of skating and excitement from start to finish. And that's what I've been working on every day." With this win, Lysacek also becomes the first reigning world champion — since Scott Hamilton in 1984 — to win Olympic gold.

Daisuke Takahashi took home the bronze medal in the event, becoming the first Japanese man to win a figure skating medal at the Olympics.