Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sasha Cohen: Door still open for Vancouver Olympics

Orange County-bred figure skater Sasha Cohen, the silver medalist at the 2006 Turin Games, said she will announce next summer whether she will try to make the U.S. team for the 2010 Winter Games.

"I like the challenge. I think it's something I can do," she said by phone Wednesday. "I just don't want to rush myself into anything and just really take my time and train and see where I can get."

Cohen, 24, placed fourth at Salt Lake City in 2002. She was the leader after the short program in Turin but performed a flawed free skate and was passed by Japan's Shizuka Arakawa.

Although she has been gone from the competitive scene for a while, her return would be intriguing. No U.S. woman has dominated nationally or internationally the past few years,

and most have struggled to deal with injuries and growth spurts. If Cohen can approach or equal her former balletic grace and smooth artistry, the competition at the 2010 U.S. championships could be very interesting.

"Right now I'm in the process of training and seeing where my skill level is at," she said, adding that she has worked with different coaches and has skated in Lake Arrowhead but hasn't chosen a coach for Olympic-level preparation.

"I haven't really trained since the last time around. And I'll take all that into consideration and see if I think that I can do it and be competitive."

After Cohen left the competitive scene she stayed busy pursuing an acting career and skating in shows. She has put acting on hold -- "I realized you can only do one thing well at once and although I loved acting, my skating suffered a lot when I was taking time away from it," she said -- and is gearing up for the Stars on Ice tour.

The cross-country tour begins later this month in Spokane, Wash., and will stop locally at the Honda Center on Jan. 31 and at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Feb. 8.

Cohen will perform two solos and three group numbers in the show, as well as a smaller, transitional solo. "They're really trying to show how we went from being competitive athletes to being performers and entertainers and how we've trained," she said. "We're trying to show that although we try to make it look easy it's a sport and a challenge and we work very hard at it."

She said can still do all the triple jumps she performed as an Olympic-track skater and usually does two in her show routines. She'd have to do more than that to earn an Olympic berth or challenge for a medal in Vancouver, and she knows it.

"It's just a matter of getting strong enough to do triple-triples and do not just do them but do them in a way that is competitive in the way skating has envisioned," she said.

She also said she has followed the Grand Prix series this season. "It's interesting to see how it goes and how the points get laid out," she said. "It is about jumping but it's also about components and the spins and the footwork and getting the best choreographer to show your strength.

"I do miss the challenge and that intensity of competition when I've been going back and watching."

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