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Skate Today

Cohen Falls Short of Olympic Comeback — Flatt and Negasu Finish 1-2 to Claim Olympic Berth

On Saturday night Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen fell short of realizing her dream to compete in a third Olympic Games next month in Vancouver. Cohen tumbled to the ice on a triple flip and struggled with two-footed landings on most of her jumps. The reigning Olympic silver medalist finished fourth in the competition with an overall score of 184.70 points.

” I was disappointed with my free skate,” Cohen said. “It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I still enjoyed being out there and performing for the audience.”

Despite the mistakes the 2006 National Champion earned high marks for the elegance and the maturity she exhibits on the ice.

“I have no regrets,” she added. “I really enjoyed being back and seeing all the people I have known all my life. It was just great competing again, and I am proud I was able to come back and fight.”

On Thursday evening the twenty-five-year-old from Westwood, California earned a standing ovation after a stellar presentation to “Espana Cani” by Pascual Marquina, which earned her the second spot entering Saturday’s free skate with 69.63 points.

“This whole event has been incredible. It’s been a great challenge for me. I’m really happy to be here for this week and see so many familiar faces.”

The three-time World medalist has struggled with injury this season causing her to pull from her fall events. Having missed those competitions may have hindered her preparation.

“Right now I am a little bit tired. It was just really special for me to take this challenge this year. I had to train really hard and try and get back into great shape. You can’t control what happens. I just did my best with everyday.”

Cohen handled her defeat with the grace and poise she is known for on the ice.

“Just watching Rachael and Mirai, they are so great and US Figure Skating has so many young girls that are so strong. There wasn’t sadness and there wasn’t regrets. I am just really proud to be here again and proud of the U.S.”

Edging out Cohen for an Olympic berth, teenagers Rachael Flatt,. 17, of Del Mar, California and Mirai Negasu, 16, of Arcadia, California claimed the Gold and Silver, respectively and picked up their ticket to the Olympic Games next month in Vancouver.

“I’m very excited with how things went,” Flatt told the press. “I was a little shaky on the flip toe, but I thought I recovered well and the rest of my program was really strong. It is stressful I have to admit it, but I think I handled it very well. It was a great feeling. I am still shaking.”

Flatt a two-time US Silver medalist set herself up as the top American and will face-off against Korea’s Yu-Na Kim, Canada’s Joannie Rochette, and Japanese phenoms Mao Asada and Miki Ando for a podium placement in Vancouver.

What Flatt brings to the table is consistency. Should others falter, she will surely be there to pick up the slack.

“I think as I went through the program, I continued to get stronger. Right before my triple loop I felt a little weak and just decided to push through it.

Flatt skated a near-perfect program on Saturday, which included seven triple jumps and a strong triple flip/triple toe combination en-route to her first National Title. Her free skate score of 130.76 points smashed her previous record by almost 17 points.

“I think the most important thing for me was just taking the speed that I had gained throughout the program and continuing, and improving upon it,” Flatt explained. “It was a good program, but I still have things to work on.”

She shook her head in disbelief as the scores came up, and she saw she was indeed number one with an overall score of 200.11 points.

Negasu, who delivered a brilliant short program to enter the free skate in first place, slid behind Flatt on Saturday after three of her jumps were downgraded by the technical panel and was placed only third in the free skate.

Despite her under-rotation the 2008 National Champion dazzled the crowd with a strong presentation to “Carmen” by George Bizet which was awarded by a standing ovation and an overall score of 188.78 points.

“I was a little bit nervous going into long program,” Negasu explained. “This year I’ve been practicing a lot more longs than I have in the past few years. I’m proud of myself for getting 2nd and can see that I still have a lot to work on.”

Ashley Wagner who fell on a triple flip in her short program entered the free skate in fourth place. The eighteen-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia pulled up to be third overall to capture the bronze medal after placing second in the free skate.

The two-time Junior World bronze medalist delivered a technically packed program which included six triple jumps, two level four spins and a level four spiral step sequence to earn a new personal best free skate score of 122.15 points.

“It was a dream mindset for me and I pulled it off and I’m really happy with myself,” Wagner told the press.

Upstart Christina Gao finished a distant fifth with an overall score of 156.53 points. The fifteen-year-old competed on the senior level for the first time. She captured the bronze medal on the junior level last season and placed third in the Junior Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, earlier this season. The youngster hit five triple jumps, but received an edge call on the triple Lutz.

2009 US Champion Alissa Czisny settled for tenth after she produced an error-prone free skate where she appeared to battle nerves. 2009 bronze medalist Caroline Zhang delivered two uninspired programs to finish in a disastrous eleventh place.

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