BOSTON – The nine figure skaters committed to competing in Spokane at next month’s 2007 U.S. Figure Skating Championships were outscored by the one skater who has dodged the question about a Spokane trip for months.
Sasha Cohen won the second Marshalls U.S. Figure Skating Challenge at Boston University on Sunday afternoon. And she did it as easily as she slips into size zero jeans, beating Johnny Weir in the final round, 53 percent to 33 percent. Others who advanced to the final round, Kimmie Meissner and pairs Rena Inoue and John Baldwin, received 9 and 5 percent of the votes, respectively. Evan Lysacek, Emily Hughes, Katy Taylor and ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto completed the field.
The “American Idol” format live television event gave the audience and home viewers a chance to vote. A panel of judges – Dick Button, Peggy Fleming and Peter Carruthers – offered their opinions, without a hint of Simon Cowell in any of them.
During the show, host Terry Gannon asked the crowd to show their support for Cohen’s possible appearance at the Jan. 21-28 national championships. That drew some of the loudest cheers of the day.
“Thank you, I appreciate your support,” said Cohen, 22, still not tipping her hand.
After the show, talking to the press was no different.
“Like I’ve said so many times, I love to perform, I love to skate, and I have a big picture, and I’m just taking it day by day and making sure my future goes where I want it to.”
When asked whether the defending national champion and Olympic silver medalist feels she’s in shape to challenge world champion Meissner, rising star Taylor and others in Spokane, Cohen answered, “I remember where I was last year at this event and I was not in good shape. I was just making new programs and I got ready within a month. I know to get ready is not a problem. I feel good.”
At last year’s Marshalls challenge, Cohen was voted second behind Michelle Kwan, who at the time was planning to skate at nationals.
While Cohen has been acting and taking acting classes (she appears in “CSI: New York” this week), performing at Christmas tree lightings and has an upcoming skating stint at actor Jim Carrey’s Christmas celebration at Paramount Studios, her colleagues have been competing.
Weir, Lysacek, Belbin, Agosto, Inoue and Baldwin will skate at this week’s Grand Prix Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Inoue and Baldwin, the defending world champions and two-time U.S. champions, performed their short program Sunday, which includes the highly anticipated throw triple axel.
The two were the first to execute the move successfully at last year’s nationals; however at Sunday’s challenge, Ionue fell on the landing.
Weir is working on two new programs while his rival, Lysacek, has a new short program to the music “Ave Maria” sung by Andre Bocelli. Cohen, meanwhile, isn’t hinting to her skating friends whether she plans to hunker down for the next month and prepare for nationals.
“We ask her, but we never get a clear answer,” Weir said. “The skating world is so small, and when she decides, we’ll all know. But I don’t really care, and she doesn’t really care if I’m going.
“As good as it would be for Spokane and the ratings to have Sasha to show up, I don’t know if she will or not.”