Skating season is here! Are you dusting off your skates that have been stored in the closet for six months (like me), or have you been a good, diligent skater, making it to the rink at least once a week? As our thoughts turn to the new season, let's not forget how exciting last season was, also being an Olympic year. Especially for the ladies field, I was riveted by the US Championships (commonly known as "Nationals") in January because there were only two slots available for the Olympic team. The field was packed with the youngsters -- Mirai Nagasu, Rachael Flatt, Ashley Wagner, Christina Gao -- and a veteran, 24-year-old Sasha Cohen. (photo at right, Sasha attends the 2010 Figure Skating in Harlem benefit in NYC)
Sasha was the 2006 US champion and then went on to win the silver at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and then the bronze at 2006 Worlds. She then stopped competing after Worlds and did a ton of professional shows where she was a crowd favorite. A lot of expectation was on her during her competing days to win, win, win. After all, she was the best out there artistically and when she was on, she was great technically. The problem was -- she would consistently have a brilliant short or long program, and have a not-so-good short or long program. Should she have won gold in more events? If she had, she probably wouldn't have come back during the 2009-2010 season to try for another Olympics.
So what happened at the 2010 Nationals? Sasha was second after the short and then had some bobbles in the free skate to place fourth in the free skate. She came in fourth overall and didn't make it onto the Olympic team. (Rachael Flatt came in first and Mirai Nagasu came in second and they went on to Vancouver. See complete results here.) But Sasha was definitely the wild card, the dark horse, the party crasher, however you want to call it -- it was a very exciting ladies competition because of her. When she came in second after the short program (and Mirai came in first), we all thought: Oh my goodness, are we actually going to send newbie 16-year-old Mirai and veteran 24-year-old Sasha as the US representatives? That would be so awesome! Anyway, it was not to be. Above is my (short) conversation with Sasha about her comeback when she was in NYC earlier this year for the 2010 Figure Skating in Harlem annual benefit.