'Sore' Cohen needs to be perfect to hold off Russian
Posted: Wednesday February 22, 2006 10:20AM; Updated: Thursday February 23, 2006 2:10PM
After missing two practices on Wednesday because of soreness, will Sasha Cohen be 100 percent for the free skate?
TURIN, Italy -- Final thoughts before the ladies' free skating on Thursday night.
Is Sasha Cohen nursing a groin injury? She's certainly nursing something. Cohen had ice on her upper thigh immediately after the short program, which she dismissed as routine "maintenance" when asked about it. But she later alluded to the other athletes she'd met during the Games while at physical therapy, and said she'd been inspired by the performance of the Chinese pairs skater Don Zhang, who completed her long program the first weekend of the Games after suffering a horrific fall. "Seeing something like that put things into perspective for me," Cohen said. "What do I have to complain about?"
Clearly, something. Cohen's mother, Galina, reportedly told Scott Hamilton that the soreness in her groin was keeping Sasha from practicing consistently. And, indeed, Cohen missed both her practices on Wednesday, highly unusual for a figure skater who's 100 percent healthy. Obviously, the injury isn't severe enough to keep her from skating -- Cohen was spectacular in the short program, which was roundly considered her finest competitive performance ever. But the fact that the soreness is keeping her out of her regular training regimen is cause for concern.
It isn't the only one. A knowledgeable judge and an influential choreographer told me that they believed Cohen's program component scores should have been much higher in the short program and that she had outskated Irina Slutskaya by a considerably greater margin than the .03 of a point she now leads the Russian favorite by. Slutskaya, both believed, had just punched the buttons when it came to her choreography, whereas Cohen was really in tune with both her music and the capacity crowd. In the parlance of figure skating, "she sold it." Everyone in the building knew that Cohen had won the night, but the scores essentially now have her and Slutskaya tied.