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Sasha Cohen Hopes to Turn 2nd Place Wins Into Olympic Gold
By Toheeb Alejo
Scholastic Kids Press Corps

Figure Skater Sasha Cohen and Kid Reporter Toheeb Alejo
Figure Skater Sasha Cohen and Kid Reporter Toheeb Alejo at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in October 2005.
(Photo: Suzanne Freeman)
Sasha Cohen is the skater to watch during this month's 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. The 21-year-old has been skating for 14 years, although she grew up on the beaches of southern California. She has second place wins in two world championships and four U.S. championships. She placed fourth—just short of a medal—at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Recently she sat down with Scholastic Kid reporter Toheeb Alejo to talk about her life and her sport.

Q: How did you get started skating?
Cohen: Well, I was in gymnastics with a friend and she also skated and said, "why don't you come to the rink," and I did. I loved it. I fell a million times, but I just loved the feeling of speed and the gliding, so I came back.

Q: What are your goals this year?
Cohen: This year is Olympic season, and I've been training really hard. It's just going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to keep skating well and putting out great programs and see what happens.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration to skate?
Cohen: I think it's a drive that comes from within. I can't imagine getting up in the morning and not skating. It gives me a purpose and it's a great sense of accomplishment.

Q: Do you have any hobbies?
Cohen: I do. I love shopping and cooking and watching movies and going out to dinner and just fun stuff.

Q: What do you like about skating?
Cohen: I like the travel. I like meeting different people. I like doing interviews and the media, the photo shoots. I love when you perform well and you have a standing ovation and you're out there in the middle of the ice knowing that you did it. It's a great moment.

Q: So what advice do you have for kids who have a goal and want to accomplish it?
Cohen: I say, work hard, follow your dreams and always love what you're doing. And have a sense of perspective and believe in yourself, because I think confidence is everything.

Q: Do you have any other jobs that you would like to do besides skating?
Cohen: I think it would be fun to be an actress. There are so many things I want to do. I definitely want to travel a lot and see the world, so who knows.

Q: How do you train to perform in front of an audience and how do you handle the pressure?
Cohen: You have to train really well at home and feel prepared. Then it's the practice and experience and knowing that you're out there in front of 10,000 people. You know you've done it before and you just believe in yourself and expect to see success.

Q: When was your first competition and how did you feel?
Cohen: I probably first competed when I was 8 or 9 years old at a small little event at some rink. But you're always really nervous and there's lots of adrenaline and there's judges and there's your family and friends watching, so you're nervous. You want to skate well, but that's good, because it counts and you care.

Photos, left to right: © Rick Rickman/NewSport/NewSport/Corbis; © Joe Cavaretta/AP Wide World.