Alexandra Pauline "Sasha" Cohen (born October 26, 1984) is an American figure skater. She is the reigning United States National Champion and silver medalist at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Cohen was born in Westwood, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. Her mother, Galina Feldman, is a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine and a former ballerina; her father, Roger Cohen, is a Jewish American business consultant who used to practice law. Sasha is the Russian nickname for Alexandra. A gymnast from an early age, Cohen switched to figure skating when she was seven years old.
Cohen competed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, finishing fourth. Her best season was 2003–04, when she took gold at three Grand Prix events and silver at both the U.S. National Championships and the World Championships. She withdrew from 2004 Grand Prix events due to a recurring back injury, but returned to place second at the 2005 US Nationals in Portland, Oregon, and World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow, Russia.
Cohen started her Olympic season by placing first at the Campbell's International Figure Skating Challenge. Soon after she withdrew from Skate America due to a hip injury. She came back strong with a second place finish at Trophée Eric Bompard.
In 2006, Cohen overcame a severe flu to capture her first U.S. National Championship. With this victory Cohen secured a place on Team USA for the 2006 Winter Olympics, a spot made official on January 14 of that year by the United States Figure Skating Association.
At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Cohen stood in 1st after the short program, leading Russia's Irina Slutskaya by a mere .03 points. In the long program, Cohen fell on a jump and had her hands down on a second, ending up behind Shizuka Arakawa of Japan by 7.98 points. Still, she earned 1.92 more points overall to edge Slutskaya for the silver, Cohen's first Olympic medal.
A month later at the 2006 World Figure Skating Championships in Calgary, Canada, Cohen once more stood in first place going into the free skate, only to once more fail to skate cleanly (only landing three clean triple jumps in the entire program) and lose out on a gold medal; she hung on to win the bronze but finished almost ten points behind her teammate, gold medalist Kimmie Meissner. Despite her flawed free skate, Cohen displayed strong artistry and picked up level fours on all her spins and her spiral step sequence. Her program components score of 61.35 was the highest of the night.
Cohen was coached by John Nicks until the summer of 2002, when she relocated to Simsbury, Connecticut, to train with Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova. She changed coaches again in January 2004 to Robin Wagner (who coached Sarah Hughes to Olympic gold), in Hackensack, New Jersey. In December 2004, Cohen returned to California to work with her original coach, John Nicks, who trained her to compete in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
Cohen is known for being one of the most polished skaters of her time, though her critics say she has never skated two clean programs in a row. Her childhood training as a gymnast allows her to bring an impressive degree of dexterity and flexibility to the sport, evident in her exquisite spiral sequences. Cohen worked on a quadruple salchow, which she had landed 10-20% of the time in practice in her younger years, including the 2001 Skate America warmups. However, Cohen abandoned the pursuit of the quad in hopes of becoming a more well-rounded skater. She dazzles audiences with her spiral sequences and spins, as well as an 'I-Spin' near the end of her programs.