10/10/2012 06:54 EDT | Updated 12/10/2012 05:12 EST

Olympic champ's comeback will have to wait as groin injury forces Lysacek out of Skate America

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Evan Lysacek's competitive comeback will have to wait a little while longer.

The Olympic figure skating champion withdrew from Skate America on Wednesday because of a groin injury. Skate America, which is Oct. 19-21 in Kent, Wash., was to have been his first competition since he won gold at the Vancouver Games.

Lysacek doesn't have any other Grand Prix assignments, meaning his competitive debut would be at the national championships in January. But U.S. Figure Skating is exploring whether there is another competition he could do before then.

Lysacek's life was a whirlwind following his gold in Vancouver, the first by a U.S. man since Brian Boitano in 1988. He competed on "Dancing with the Stars," did skating shows, made appearances for sponsors, did speaking engagements and, most recently, worked with the State Department as a sports envoy.

But he still felt the pull of the ice, and resumed training more than a year ago. He made his comeback official in August, saying then that both of his programs were done and he had a quadruple jump.

"I feel strong now, I feel prepared and, dare I say it, even better than in Vancouver," Lysacek said then. "I really feel the most important thing for me was not to come back as the same athlete in Vancouver, but to come back better."

While missing his one Grand Prix is a setback, it's the world championships that are most critical this season. Worlds are the qualifier for the 2014 Olympics, and the U.S. men will have to finish with a combined placement of 13 or better at this year's worlds to earn three spots in Sochi. No U.S. man has finished higher than fifth the past three years. Lysacek, the 2009 world champion, has never finished lower than fifth at an Olympics or world championships.

Lysacek will be replaced at Skate America by Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who was fourth at last year's U.S. championships.