Cohen, Sasha

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COHEN, SASHA (Alexandra Pauline ; 1984– ), U.S. Olympic figure skater. Cohen was born in Westwood, California, and named after Alexandra Rajefrejk, the favorite ballerina of her mother, a native of the Ukraine. Cohen began skating at age seven after first starting with gymnastics at age five and progressing to level five of the sport's 10 levels. She decided to take skating seriously at age 10, working first with coach Yvonne Nicks and then with Yvonne's husband, John Nicks. Cohen placed second at the U.S. Junior Championships in 1999, and shocked the skating world by placing first in the short program at the U.S. Senior Championships in 2000, and second overall to World Champion Michelle Kwan. A back injury limited Cohen to only two competitions in the 2000–1 season, but she bounced back to place second at the U.S. Championships in 2002, again behind Kwan. This landed her a spot on the U.S. Olympic team for the games in Salt Lake City, where Cohen sat next to President George W. Bush at the opening ceremonies and made national news when she asked him to talk on her cell phone to her mother. Cohen then finished fourth behind Sarah Hughes, Russian Irina Slutskaya, and Kwan, in a controversial competition that some felt should have included Cohen among the medal winners. Cohen then competed in her first World Championships, where she placed fourth. She won her first major international title at the 2003 Grand Prix Final, and placed fourth overall at the 2003 World Championships. A supreme stylist, she won silver medals at the 2004 Grand Prix Final and, despite coaching changes made directly beforehand, at the 2004 and 2005 World Championships. She placed second after Kwan at the U.S. Championships in January 2005, her otherwise flawless performance marred when she fell on a triple lutz jump and put her hand down on a triple loop. Cohen won a silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Her autobiography, Sasha Cohen: Fire on Ice, was published in 2005.

[Elli Wohlgelernter (2nd ed.)]