News from America's ice rinks is dire. Or so it would seem in the emotion-filled world of U.S. figure skating, where anxiety has set in a year before the Vancouver Games because of a shortage of Ice Princesses.
The recently concluded U.S. championships left some questioning the strength of the once-prominent women's team that won five of the nine medals available in the past three Olympics. There's even talk of the unthinkable — being shut out in Vancouver.
No wonder some are clamoring for Sasha Cohen's return to the first Winter Olympics on the West Coast in a half-century.
Cohen, who retired in 2006, floated the idea of a comeback in October. She will make a decision in June after she finishes the Smucker's Stars on Ice tour that comes to HP Pavilion on Friday. But her intent sounded clear in a recent interview.
"The reason I am going back isn't because I need a gold medal or some other title," said Cohen, who was second at the Turin Games in 2006. "I need that challenge in my life and that purpose. I think I still have one more in me and it feels incomplete" without it.
Cohen, 24, knows comebacks of aging skaters don't have Disneyesque endings. But even if she fails to qualify for the 2010 Olympics, Cohen has the marketing power to re-energize figure skating in America.
"It would probably be very good for the sport," said John Nicks, who coached Cohen at the 2002 and '06 Olympics.Alissa Czisny, 21, added to Cohen's optimism by winning the national title last weekend despite landing only three triple jumps — the fewest by any U.S. champion in nearly two decades.
Cohen isn't going to outjump current stars Mao Asada of Japan and Yu-Na Kim of South Korea. But at her best she possesses an ethereal quality found in great skaters such as Peggy Fleming, Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi.