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Sasha Cohen Addresses Critics

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In a superbly catty article, Tribune Company's Philip Hersh publishes his recent interview with Sasha Cohen in which she addresses the critics who point out the odd fact that she skated in an ice show last Tuesday in Anaheim and then pulled out of this weekend's Trophee Eric Bompard Grand Prix due to tendinitis. She is pretty clear in her answers, for example:

Q. The critics are asking, ``How can she be skating a show if she is supposed to be taking time off to heal?''

A. I never took time off. I just had to stop doing flips and lutzes for a while and minimize my other jumping so I couldn't really train my short and long programs. That show was (a day after) I started doing flips and lutzes again, and that was just one week before Paris.

If she only just started doing flips and lutzes again, then maybe she should have pulled out of the competition earlier...but that is a whole other conversation. Since Cohen has actually committed to this process, I don't think it's just a publicity grab, as some assert. I mean, let's be honest, the average person who doesn't follow skating day in and day out still remembers Cohen and probably has no idea she's trying for a major comeback. And will not know until Nationals at the earliest. I would be more likely to believe that she thought it wouldn't be too hard to beat the current crop of ladies out there for an Olympic slot, and she's just overestimated her ability to get back into Olympic form. As I've mentioned, my worst nightmare in this scenario is for Cohen to not skate any Grand Prix events and then show up at Nationals and manage a spot on the Olympic team, despite the fact that we haven't seen her in an international competition in years. So, let's hope that she's ready for Skate America.

As for the catty part...Hersh overstates the fact that it is not he who thought Cohen's comeback was less than honest. No, it was his commenters and other critics who are (gasp) questioning an athlete's motives. And he went on to quote Jennifer Kirk, who mused on her blog that it is possibly a fear of failure that is motivating Cohen rather than injury. And then, we get this little nugget from Hersh:

(Failure is something Kirk is familiar with, having slopped to 17th and 18th-place finishes in her two world meet appearances and quitting a year before the 2006 Olympics; Cohen, by comparison, has an Olympic silver, two world silvers, a world bronze and no finish worse than fourth in five world and two Olympic appearances.)

I should probably point out that many consider Cohen's inability to snag a world title or the Olympic gold (when both were there for the taking) as something short of the success that was expected of her based on her abilities....but, all skating fans know that and that's obviously not the main point. I just thought that Hersh's failure comment was outrageous. If you want to spend half of your article pretending it's others (and never you!) who are questioning Cohen, and then belittle people like Kirk who are merely making suggestions about genuine issues, like fear of failure, perhaps you should leave out ridiculous sections like the above that make you come across as a Mean Girl(or...Guy, in this case). And one who is hardcore sucking up to Sasha Cohen at that by nastily trying to shame her critics. But then again, interviews are hard to come by, and a reporter is nothing without sources. So maybe Hersh is on the right track, if what he cares about is procuring future Cohen interviews.