Is this really E.M. Swift's blog? He writes a pretty nasty post about Michelle Kwan having ulterior motives for talking about coming back to skating (publicity on advice from her agent!). I don't believe that Kwan would be intentionally leading everyone on, but something does seem amiss . She always plays very coy when she she talks about the "comeback." I mean, she knows she is going to get the question, and even though she has essentially said she is not training for the Olympics now (points for honesty) she makes sure to keep you hanging on. It's such a different approach than Sasha Cohen's. Cohen IS training right now, and she says she will make a decision in June, based entirely on how she is skating. She doesn't comment on the other skaters out there right now (which Kwan had to do, because Kwan was commentating at worlds). Cohen seems to be in a more competitive place, while Kwan gives off the vibe that if she did come back (which I kind of doubt she will) it would be some sort of retirement lap or something.
Here is what I think (and if you want a more qualified opinion, most every skating writer has pontificated on this as well): Neither Kwan or Cohen can "save" U.S. ladies skating (if it does, in fact, need saving). They might be a bandaid for a few months.
If Cohen and Kwan come back, even if they don't make it to the Olympics, USFSA will benefit from a spike in ratings. The ladies will benefit from loads of generous media coverage and it won't look bad even if they don't make the team - they are much older than the sport's current stars, after all. But as far as a realistic chance of competing? I have to say that Kwan never got a chance to really figure out the scoring system, and she wasn't skating in things like Skate America where she could have ironed the system out a bit. Her last worlds win was in 2003. It's possible that with a great coach and choreographer, she could rack up the points and put together a judge's dream program like Yu-na Kim does, but could she keep up with it at this point or land enough triples? It sounds like she has not been training on ice very much, and her jumps are only just coming back to her. I say that's not enough time to get competitive, and I don't think Kwan will go out there like that. And it's only nine months until nationals. But she's a competitor, so who knows.
As for Cohen, she did do better under the new scoring system. But even that couldn't make up for her inability to put clean programs together. And I don't think this will have changed in the past few years with her not competing. I think if she came back, she would have a better chance of making the Olympic team and being competitive in the new system overall, but I don't know if she would be able to medal anymore with a fall. It happens, but there have to be enough other points to make up for it, and not sure if Cohen would have enough.
After watching the American ladies at worlds, I thought I would be jumping on the Kwan/Cohen bandwagon. I definitely am for certain reasons - I would love if people tuned into U.S. figure skating again and I just love them as skaters so much. But I know neither of these ladies would be in it for anything other than a little more Olympic glory, which is fine. However, as flawed as the current crop of skaters is, and as difficult as it would be for them to get on that medal podium next year, I would hope that they would go to the Olympics and then stay competitive and really start building some success and becoming the next great American ladies skater (on the other hand, you could have the next Kimmie Meissner or Emily Hughes situation, where a skater's success is fleeting, apparently). Maybe it's just because I've been watching them for a few years now, but I see so much potential. But potential doesn't win competitions. And I am all about whoever can compete, competing. If Kwan and Cohen aren't up to snuff, they'll see that the judging system is not quite as sweet as the adoring fans. And if, on the other hand, they are up to form, then welcome back. We've missed you.