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Cohen trains with Olympics on horizon

Star skater doesn't rule out a return to competition

Sasha Cohen on the red carpet at "Skating with the Stars" to benefit Figure Skating in Harlem.
Sasha Cohen on the red carpet at "Skating with the Stars" to benefit Figure Skating in Harlem. (Getty Images)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(07/17/2008) - "I've gone back to really tough training this summer," says 2006 U.S. champion Sasha Cohen, 23. "I haven't really trained for more than two years, so it's really tough. Last year, I didn't skate at all. I went to acting school. This is time for me to train without any pressure of having to compete.

"I can get comfortable with the new system and get back the elements-the footwork, the spins. Start working on all my jumps again that I left alone for a while. I don't like to say what it will be or won't be. This is a summer I've dedicated to training."

When Cohen took a step back from competition following her silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics and bronze at 2006 worlds (she also won world silver in 2004 and '05), she said she hoped to return and compete at the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in her hometown of Los Angeles. That appears out, as Cohen will again tour the U.S. with Stars on Ice, but as the saying goes, "I'm still keeping my options open."

This past season was Cohen's debut with Stars on Ice and she was the tour's headliner.

"It was totally amazing," she says. "I didn't know what to expect going in. It's a completely different format [than Champions on Ice]. You're on the road a lot longer. You sleep on the bus. Different show, different management, different skaters. It turned out to be amazing. Everyone was really close. The choreographers are amazing. The amount of work and energy people put into the show really shows. We had the best time and we worked really hard. It way exceeded my expectations."

Cohen jokes she spent much of the show in quick change, as she performed both solos and group routines (seven routines in all). "It's so wonderful to do stuff that you wouldn't get a chance to do otherwise and push yourself creatively," she says. "It keeps you really fresh and excited."

After finishing Stars on Ice (both U.S. and Canada), Cohen went on a three-week vacation with her mother, sister and a friend. They went to London and Bath in England, then to Athens and then on a cruise of the Greek Islands, up the coast of Croatia and Slovenia and onto Venice. From Venice, they took a train to Positano, where they saw Pompei and Amalfi. From there they came home.

Cohen is performing shows in Korea this weekend and then onto Japan next week. After Japan, she'll return to Southern California for more training. In late August, she'll skate in the renowned Sun Valley ice show. She'll also make time to go to the wedding of castmates Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon. She is also committed to skating in Michael Weiss' foundation fundraiser in September. This fall, Cohen anticipates performing in three or four Disson Skating shows and then it's onto Stars on Ice rehearsals. The show opens Thanksgiving weekend.

She admits her lack of summer training last year left her playing catch-up in the autumn. She'll come into the new season fully ready. Coach Faye Kitariev is overseeing Cohen's training and is helping her choreograph programs for the Disson shows. Cohen says training is simultaneously frustrating and satisfying. "I'll have patience and keep pushing and see where it goes," she notes. "My body is like, 'Agh!' I forgot what real training was like.

"I would really love to come back to one more Olympics," she adds. "The whole magnitude of it is amazing. I love the sense of purpose and challenge.

"This summer is dedicated to training. It's really good to have a summer to focus on it."