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Sasha Cohen: ‘I think that I’m truly done’

By Brandon Penny
Special to Figure Skaters Online


Sasha Cohen is one of the most accomplished skaters of her time. High on her list of accolades are winning the 2006 U.S. Championship in St. Louis and a silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

Once coached by John Nicks with Rafael Arutunian, Cohen last competed at the 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Wash., her first event since winning bronze at the 2006 World Championships. She withdrew from the 2009 fall season due to injury but was committed to skating at nationals, where she was fourth, earning alternate status for what would have been a third Olympic appearance.

Cohen is now performing with Stars on Ice, which crisscrosses the United States through April 9. While on the road last week, she talked with Figure Skaters Online about a possible comeback and what else the future could hold for the 26-year-old.

As a former competitor who is not directly affected by the decision made regarding the 2011 World Championships, what are your thoughts?

The events absolutely are devastating and we forget I think how powerful and incredible natural disasters can be and I think it really puts life and sports in perspective.  The images on the television and in the newspaper of everything that’s happening in Japan – words can’t even describe it but I hope for the skaters’ sake they can figure out a place and a time to have the World Championships.  Skaters have worked so hard all year so I hope they get a chance to show off their work.

Do you think it should be postponed and still held in Japan or held in a different city?

Maybe in a different city.  Same time frame (spring) and just keep everyone on a similar schedule to what they were planning for.

Now the big question everyone wants to know: Are you truly finished competing and do you think there’s any chance you might return?

I think that I’m truly done.  There are other things I want to do and I really enjoy traveling and touring but I would love to go to school.  At the age of 26 there’s some other things that I feel compelled and really interested to do but skating was such a big part of my life.

How is your life different now vs. when you were training daily for competition?

It’s a lot more travel.  No real schedule with media days, show days, sometimes we fly all day.  I miss a little bit of the normalcy and the patterns but it’s also fun getting to travel around the world, see different friends and catch up – just have a whole different bunch of experiences.

Was it a hard adjustment to make after you finished competing?

Yes and no because I didn’t stay at home.  I kept so busy I was still working and skating and making new programs and going to charity events so I stayed busy enough that I didn’t really realize how much I was missing something.

Do you want to continue skating after this year and do you think that you’ll continue to tour with Stars on Ice?

You know what, I have no idea.  I’m gonna take it one tour at a time.  Right now I am touring through the U.S. and Canada and we’ll see what happens next year but I love to skate, I love to perform.  The audience has been incredible and really makes me appreciate how much I love what I do.

Are you planning to attend college this summer or fall?

I’m hoping to.  I’m hoping to take some summer classes in New York and then decide if I want to go to school in the fall depending on how much I’m gonna be traveling or skating and doing shows.

Where would you take classes – would it be NYU (New York University)?

That’s where I’m currently applying so we’ll see.  I have to wait for my application to be reviewed.

Do you know what you want to study?

I never got my undergrad, so I’m interested in a lot of things.  Definitely business, psychology, I’m also very interested in drama and art – so a little bit of everything.

Do you plan on taking more acting classes in the future?

Yes.  I love acting and that’s definitely something I’m interested in pursuing but I feel like I need to have a more balanced and diverse view of everything that’s out there before I go down one road again.

What was your most challenging moment in skating and how did you get through that?

I think the injuries are really frustrating because you don’t know if you’re gonna get your jumps back, if you’ll be competitive again.  Once you get through that, you can keep believing in yourself and when you get through something you don’t think you can do it’s such a rewarding feeling.

How were you feeling last January after you competed at nationals and didn’t make the Olympic team?

It was very disappointing for me but it was a rough year and I did the best I could with each day.  I had a lot of obstacles and injuries, but I learned a lot about myself, I think it really made me a stronger person.  I’m glad, I have no regrets and it was great to be back, I felt very welcome and very appreciated and I had a lot of purpose that year.  I wouldn’t have done it differently if I could go back right now.

Fans have noticed the new, much shorter haircut you debuted at the Boston Stars on Ice show.  Why did you cut your hair?

I felt inspired for change.  I did the same thing about 10 years ago.  It was fun, I just felt like I was taking action, I felt very carefree about it and I wanted a change.  I love to be spontaneous.

A lot of people want to know – when will you join Twitter?

I just joined Facebook six months ago so it’s gonna take some time.

That’s a start!  At least you’re on Facebook now.

Yes, I am on Facebook.  I don’t know, I like to interact with people in person…I’m not even a phone person, I don’t really text so it’s difficult for me to change my habits.

On Facebook, do you only have a personal account or do you have an official fan page as well?

Someone I met today said that they found a fan page on Facebook for me but someone else runs that, so I assume that there is one. It is not an official fan page. I just have my personal account.

Do you think that you will one day interact with fans on Facebook or Twitter?

Definitely!  I am all about change and I am sure that I will come around to it.

You’re well into this year’s Stars on Ice tour by now – how much are you enjoying this year’s tour?

It’s been great.  We have such an amazing cast and a really good show.  It’s a little hard to just play weekends but with the economy it makes sense to have the show on the weekends so more people can see it.  But I’m getting in the rhythm of tour and I’ve packed my bag for a month now and I’m looking forward to it!

What’s your favorite number in the show that you’re a part of?

I really love skating to Cabaret, the song “Mein Herr.”  I saw Liza Minnelli about a year ago and I just absolutely fell in love with it and said, ‘I have to skate to this.’  It’s been a lot of fun for me, it’s helped me open up and loosen up my personality and it’s really an acting performance.

What is your favorite number that you’re not in?

I really, really enjoy Evan (Lysacek)’s numbers.  Evan’s such a talented skater to watch and to see his hard work – he has so much precision so I think he brings a lot to the show.

This year’s cast is so diverse.  How well do you all get along?

We all get along.  We have different interests and some people hang out and some people don’t – some people hang out with their families and some people are more solitary but it’s great, we’re very comfortable, we celebrate things together and have a great time.  Everyone’s very mature and very professional and they’re great to work with.

Ben Agosto told me the cast likes to play soccer before the show and he mentioned that you get pretty intense when you play.  Is this true?

Yes, I haven’t played since last year but I’m pretty much intense with anything I do and I play soccer like it’s rugby, which is why I really enjoy it, but some people might be a little scared of me.


Photo courtesy of Leah Adams

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