January 20, 2010 in Sports

Cohen here and ready

By The Spokesman-Review

She came, we saw and most everyone was impressed.

Sasha Cohen, who has not skated competitively since winning an Olympic silver medal and a bronze at the World Championships in 2006, practiced at the Arena Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the Senior Ladies program at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Among those pleased with what they saw of Cohen’s run-through for tonight’s short program was her long-time coach.

“It was fine,” John Nicks said. “She looked nice. I always enjoy her skating. I think she’s something different. I think her presence in this competition adds enormous interest.”

The difference at practice was that the buzz was about her skating. Prior to that, interested fans were wondering if she would show up, since she had withdrawn from two previously planned comeback competitions because of injuries.

“The last few weeks I’ve been listening and watching and reading and it’s not who’s going to win the ladies, not how Sasha was going to do, it was is Sasha going to be here or not?” Nicks said. “I thought that was a little strange.”

Cohen has rejoined Nicks, her longtime coach, in addition to working with Rafael Arutunian since she decided to come back. She elected not to speak publicly after practicing, but had insisted in the lead-up to Spokane that she would be here.

“There was never any question in her mind or my mind,” Nicks said. “It’s apparent to me the last four or five weeks she practiced intensely, almost harder than she’s ever done before.”

Well, maybe there was some doubt.

“When I saw her in September, I had a great concern if she would make it or not,” Nicks said. “Things were not going too well. She had a calf injury. I was worried, but the last four or five weeks have gone very well.”

Cohen tumbled once during practice, but she left no doubt that she should be a factor in the battle for one of the two spots on the Olympic team for the Winter Games in Vancouver next month.

“I think when she steps on the ice, she sets herself apart,” Nicks said. “I’ve worked with her since she was 11 years old – that’s 14 years – so I’m biased, so you really shouldn’t ask, but I think she’s the best women’s skater around.

“The difference between her and the other young ladies is she’s got this vast experience, two previous Winter Olympics, goodness knows how many nationals. That experience will stand her in good stead.”

Cohen has stayed in shape by skating with Stars on Ice, which has made stops in Spokane, allowing her to be comfortable with her surroundings.

“The Olympics brought her back,” Nicks said. “There’s something very special about representing your country and she feels that. And she’s always liked a challenge.”

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