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Sasha Cohen

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Sasha Cohen
Cohen skating in 2009
Full nameAlexandra Pauline Cohen
Born (1984-10-26) October 26, 1984 (age 39)
Westwood, California, United States
HometownNewport Beach, California
Height1.58 m (5 ft 2 in)
Figure skating career
Country United States
DisciplineWomen's singles
Began skating1992
Event Gold medal – first place Silver medal – second place Bronze medal – third place
Olympic Games 0 1 0
World Championships 0 2 1
Grand Prix Final 1 1 0
U.S. Championships 1 4 1
Medal list
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 2006 Turin Singles
World Championships
Silver medal – second place 2004 Dortmund Singles
Silver medal – second place 2005 Moscow Singles
Bronze medal – third place 2006 Calgary Singles
Grand Prix Final
Gold medal – first place 2002–03 Saint Petersburg Singles
Silver medal – second place 2003–04 Colorado Springs Singles
U.S. Championships
Gold medal – first place 2006 St. Louis Singles
Silver medal – second place 2000 Cleveland Singles
Silver medal – second place 2002 Los Angeles Singles
Silver medal – second place 2004 Atlanta Singles
Silver medal – second place 2005 Portland Singles
Bronze medal – third place 2003 Dallas Singles

Alexandra Pauline "Sasha" Cohen (born October 26, 1984) is a retired American figure skater. She is the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, a three-time World Championship medalist, the 2003 Grand Prix Final Champion, and the 2006 U.S. Champion. She is known for her artistry, flexibility and body lines, and musical interpretation.[1][2][3] As of 2022, Cohen is the most recent American woman to medal individually in figure skating at the Olympics.

Early life[edit]

Cohen was born in Westwood, California, a neighborhood in Los Angeles. Her nickname "Sasha" is a Russian diminutive of "Alexandra". Her mother, Galina Cohen (née Feldman), is a Jewish immigrant from Odesa, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union and a former ballet dancer. Her father, Roger Cohen, is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law and formerly a law partner at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. Cohen has a younger sister, Natalia (nicknamed "Natasha"). She understands and can speak Russian, but refuses to speak it in public.[citation needed]

Cohen graduated from Futures High School in Mission Viejo, California in 2002. Cohen graduated from Columbia University in 2016 with a degree in political science. As a university student, she has used the name Alex rather than Sasha.[4][5]

In 2005, Cohen published her autobiography, Fire on Ice. The autobiography was republished in 2006 with a new chapter on the 2006 season.

Skating career[edit]

Cohen as a pre-teen skater in Baltimore in 1996)

Early career[edit]

A gymnast from an early age, Cohen switched to figure skating when she was seven years old, but it wasn't until she was eleven that she began to take the sport seriously. One of her early skating coaches was Victor Yelchin, father of late actor Anton Yelchin.[6]

Cohen rose to prominence in the skating community during the 2000 U.S. Championships. Just up from juniors, Cohen was first in the short program and finished second overall after the free skate, provisionally qualifying for the senior World team. A loophole in the ISU's age rules at the time would have allowed her to compete at the senior World Championships if she medaled at the World Junior Championships but she finished 6th at the junior event.[7]

Senior development[edit]

Cohen did not compete at the 2001 U.S. Nationals due to a stress fracture in her back. She resumed full training in June 2001.[8] Cohen won the silver medal at the 2002 U.S. Championships, earning her a trip to the Olympics. Cohen competed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, finishing 4th. She also finished 4th at the 2002 World Championships, held in Nagano. Cohen was coached by John Nicks in California.[9]

In the summer of 2002, Cohen moved to the East Coast to train with Tatiana Tarasova at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury, Connecticut.[10][9][11] She won her first ISU Grand Prix event at the 2002 Skate Canada and then won the 2002 Trophée Lalique. She won the silver medal at the 2002 Cup of Russia. These three placements earned her a spot to the 2002–03 Grand Prix Final, where she became the champion. At the 2003 U.S. championships she won the bronze medal, and at the 2003 World Championships, held in Washington, D.C., Cohen placed 4th, repeating her placement in the previous season.

Cohen performs an I-spin at the 2003 Skate Canada competition in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Her best season was 2003–04, when she took gold at the 2003 Skate America, at the 2003 Skate Canada (setting a world record in the short program) and at the 2003 Trophée Lalique and won silver at the 2003–04 Grand Prix Final. In late December 2003, she changed coaches and began training with Robin Wagner in Hackensack, New Jersey.[9][12] She placed second at both the 2004 U.S. Championships and the 2004 World Championships, getting a medal at Worlds for the first time in her career.

In the 2004–05 season, Cohen withdrew from her Grand Prix events due to a recurring back injury. In late December 2004, Cohen decided to return to California and train again with her first coach John Nicks.[13][14] She placed 2nd at the 2005 U.S. Championships in Portland and the 2005 World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

2006 Olympic season[edit]

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.[13] She took second place at Trophée Eric Bompard, where she fell on a triple salchow during her free skate. In 2006, Cohen overcame the flu to capture her first U.S. championship. With this victory Cohen automatically secured her place on the U.S. Olympic team 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 was in first after the short program, leading Russia's Irina Slutskaya by a mere .03 points. In the final free skate, Cohen fell on her first jump, a triple lutz, and had her hands down on her second jump, the triple flip. She completed the rest of her elements, including five triples. Cohen finished with an Olympic silver medal, 7.98 points behind gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa of Japan.

A month later at the 2006 World Championships in Calgary, Canada, Cohen was in first place after the short program. Completing only one jump combination and falling on the triple salchow, she placed fourth in the free skate and won the bronze medal, finishing almost ten points behind her teammate, gold medalist Kimmie Meissner.

Champions on Ice and hiatus[edit]

Cohen performs a Charlotte spiral at the 2008 Stars on Ice tour stop in Portland, Oregon

In April 2006, Cohen started the Champions on Ice tour, participated in the second annual "Skating with the Stars, Under the Stars" gala in Central Park and performed in the Marshalls U.S. Figure Skating International Showcase. On April 15, 2006, Cohen announced that she intended to compete in the 2010 season and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. She said via her official website, "I will decide after the COI Tour how much skating and what events I will do next season."

In December 2006, Cohen announced that she needed "a little downtime from competing" and that she would not defend her U.S. Figure Skating Championship title in 2007. She said that her "major goals" were the 2009 World Championships and the 2010 Olympics; "I know I want to be in Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics."[15]

Cohen did not compete in 2007, 2008, or 2009, although she did not give up her Olympic eligibility. She performed in exhibitions, including the Rockefeller Christmas Tree lighting and USFSA-approved events. She was a headliner in the 2007–08 and 2008–09 Stars on Ice tour.

Return to competition[edit]

Cohen announced on May 6, 2009, that she planned to make a comeback for the 2010 Winter Olympics.[16] She said she would train with Rafael Arutyunyan.[17] Cohen received invitations to compete in the 2009 Trophée Eric Bompard and in the 2009 Skate America in the 2009–10 Grand Prix series but withdrew from both due to tendinitis in her right calf.[18][19] In November 2009, she changed coaches to John Nicks, who worked closer to where she lived.[20][21]

On January 21, 2010, Cohen competed for the first time in four years at the 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Washington. She debuted her program to España cañí, and skated a strong performance landing a triple lutz-double toe, a triple flip, a double Axel, along with her signature spiral sequence and spins earning 69.63 points putting her in second place, just 0.43 from first-place finisher Mirai Nagasu. In her free skate, set to Moonlight Sonata, she fell on a triple flip and had two-footed landings on a number of other jumps. She finished fourth in the championships, behind Rachael Flatt, Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner, and was not selected for the Olympic team, rather appointed as second alternate to the 2010 U.S. Olympic team and the 2010 World Championship team. She retired from figure skating in 2010.[22]

Halls of Fame[edit]

In 2015, Cohen was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[23] The next January 22, U.S. Figure Skating made her part of the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame Class of 2016.[24]

Skating trademarks[edit]

Cohen performs a combination spin at the 2006 U.S. Nationals in St. Louis, Missouri
Cohen performs a Russian split jump

Cohen is the first skater to receive +3s for spirals under the International Skating Union Judging System (IJS) for "Grade of Execution (GOE)", and was also the first female skater to break the +130 barrier on a free skate under the IJS.[25] At the beginning of her senior career she was labeled as one in the generation of "Baby Ballerinas" (alongside Naomi Nari Nam) due to her body lines and the ability to point her toes during difficult skating maneuvers such as triple jumps, spiral sequences and footwork. She is known for her 180º arabesque penchée spiral and Charlotte spiral, as well as the variety of positions in her spins. She popularized the I-spin position, which is sometimes informally referred to as the "Sasha spin", due to her exceptional execution of the move.

Ice shows[edit]

Cohen has participated in the ice show Stars On Ice for several years, as well as starring in the 2010 Art On Ice alongside Stéphane Lambiel. She joined 2010 Olympic ladies champion Yuna Kim in the All That Skate ice show, scheduled for July 23–25, 2010 in Goyang, South Korea, alongside other skaters including Michelle Kwan, Stéphane Lambiel and Brian Joubert.[26]

Television and film[edit]

Cohen has appeared, as herself and as an actress playing a role, in commercials, television episodes, documentaries and feature films.


Cohen has done commercials for Citizen Watch, Simply Saline, and Got Milk?. She appeared in Episode 7 of the second season of Project Runway wherein designers were challenged to design a skating dress for her. The winning dress (by Zulema Griffin) did not fit and the dress had to be resized. Cohen made a brief appearance guest starring as herself on the May 5, 2006 episode of the NBC drama, Las Vegas.[27] In April 2008, she appeared as a contortionist on the premiere episode of Secret Talents of the Stars and advanced to the semifinals, although the show was cancelled before she could perform again. She made a guest appearance as an ice skater in CSI: NY season 3 episode 12 "Silent Night". Cohen also participated in the 2013 edition of "Tornado Week" on The Weather Channel, helping break the myth that small tornadoes are not as destructive by demonstrating a tight spin.


Cohen played Fiona Hughes, Moondance Alexander's archenemy, in the Don Johnson movie Moondance Alexander.[28] At the 2006 Academy Awards, Cohen served as a guest correspondent for Inside Edition. This experience led to an encounter with Ben Stiller and a discussion about having a part in a future comedy about figure skating, which Cohen said she would enjoy. In 2007, she appeared as herself in Blades of Glory. Later that year, she also had a role in Bratz: The Movie. In 2017, Cohen appeared as herself in the SyFy TV movie, Sharknado 5.

Cohen was featured in The Weight of Gold (2020), an HBO Sports Documentary which "explor(es) the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face."[29][30]

Personal life[edit]

On July 5, 2015, it was announced that Cohen was engaged to hedge fund manager Tom May.[31] On August 20, 2016, the couple married in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.[32] In February 2018, she and May were living apart and going through divorce proceedings.[33] Cohen now works as an associate at Morgan Stanley.[34] In October 2019, Cohen announced her engagement to Geoffrey Lieberthal, an equity partner who is also the son of political scientist Kenneth Lieberthal. They have two children: a son born in January 2020[35] and a daughter born in August 2021.[36] Cohen and Lieberthal married in September 2022 in Aspen Mountain, Colorado.[37]


Cohen performs a Biellmann spiral on the 2008 Stars on Ice tour stop in Halifax
Season Short program Free skating Exhibition

2008–2009 Did not compete
  • Moonlight Sonata
    by Ludwig van Beethoven
    choreo. by Nikolai Morozov

  • It's So Hard To Say Goodbye
    by Boyz II Men
    choreo. by Sasha Cohen

  • Dark Eyes
    (Russian folk song)
    choreo. by Nikolai Morozov

  • Don't Rain on My Parade
    by Barbra Streisand
    choreo. by John Nicks, Sasha Cohen
  • Swan Lake
    by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
    choreo. by Tatiana Tarasova

  • Romeo and Juliet (1968 film)
    by Nino Rota, André Rieu
    choreo. by Tatiana Tarasova
  • Malagueña
    by Ernesto Lecuona
    choreo. by
    Tatiana Tarasova, Nikolai Morozov
  • Romeo and Juliet (1968 film)
    by Nino Rota, André Rieu
    choreo. by Tatiana Tarasova

  • My Sweet and Tender Beast
    by Eugen Doga
    choreo. by John Nicks, Sasha Cohen

  • Anytime, Anywhere
    by Sarah Brightman
    choreo. by John Nicks, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Sasha Cohen

  • Piano Concerto No. 2
    by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Competitive highlights[edit]

GP = Grand Prix; JGP = Junior Grand Prix

Event 98–99 99–00 00–01 01–02 02–03 03–04 04–05 05–06 09–10
Olympics 4th 2nd
Worlds 4th 4th 2nd 2nd 3rd
GP Final 1st 2nd
GP Cup of Russia 4th 2nd
GP Lalique/Bompard 3rd 1st 1st 2nd WD
GP Skate America 5th 1st WD
GP Skate Canada 1st 1st
GP Sparkassen 5th
Finlandia Trophy 1st
International: Junior[42]
Junior Worlds 6th
JGP Sweden 1st
Gardena 1st J
U.S. Champ. 2nd J 2nd WD 2nd 3rd 2nd 2nd 1st 4th
WD = Withdrew
J = Junior

Detailed results[edit]

From left to right: Kimmie Meissner (silver), Sasha Cohen (gold), Emily Hughes (bronze), and Katy Taylor (pewter) at the 2006 U.S. Championships.
2009–2010 season
Date Event QR SP FS Total
January 14–24, 2010 2010 U.S. Championships 2
2005–2006 season
Date Event QR SP FS Total
March 21–23, 2006 2006 World Championships 3
February 21–23, 2006 2006 Winter Olympics 1
January 7–15, 2006 2006 U.S. Championships 1
November 17–20, 2005 2005 Trophée Eric Bompard 2
2004–2005 season
Date Event QR SP FS Total
March 21–23, 2005 2005 World Championships 1
January 9–16, 2005 2005 U.S. Championships 2 2 2
2003–2004 season
Date Event QR SP FS Total
March 21–23, 2004 2004 World Championships 1
January 9–16, 2004 2004 U.S. Championships 1 2 2
December 11–14, 2003 2003–04 Grand Prix Final 2
November 13–16, 2003 2003 Trophée Lalique 1
October 28–31, 2003 2003 Skate Canada International 1
October 23–26, 2003 2003 Skate America 1
2002–2003 season
Date Event QR SP FS Total
March 24–30, 2003 2003 World Championships 3
February 28 – March 2, 2003 2002–03 Grand Prix Final 1
January 12–19, 2003 2003 U.S. Championships 3 2 2
November 22–24, 2002 2002 Cup of Russia 2 2 2
November 14–17, 2002 2002 Trophée Lalique 2 1 1
October 31 – November 3, 2002 2002 Skate Canada International 1 1 1
2001–2002 season
Date Event QR SP FS Total
March 16–24, 2002 2002 World Championships 2 5 4 4
February 21–23, 2002 2002 Winter Olympics 3 4 4
January 6–13, 2002 2002 U.S. Championships 2 2 2
November 15–18, 2001 2001 Trophée Lalique 3 3 3
October 24–28, 2001 2001 Skate America 4 5 4
  • 2001: Goodwill Games – 4th; Finlandia Trophy – 1st
  • 2000: U.S. Championships – 2nd; World Junior Championships – 6th; Nations Cup – 5th; Cup of Russia – 4th
  • 1999: U.S. Championships, Junior – 2nd

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Cohen, Sasha. (2006). Fire on Ice (Revised Edition): Autobiography of a Champion Figure Skater. Collins. ISBN 0-06-115385-0


  1. ^ "Still Waiting for Sasha Cohen". Los Angeles Times. March 26, 2003.
  2. ^ "Sasha Cohen impressive at Campbell's Classic". ESPN. October 9, 2005.
  3. ^ "#TB to Sasha Cohen, a Ballerina on the Ice". Dance Spirit. February 22, 2018.
  4. ^ "Senior profile: Sasha Cohen, GS – Columbia Daily Spectator". www.columbiaspectator.com. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Skater Girl". Columbia Daily Spectator. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Itier, Emmanuel (January 30, 2008). "On Top of the Teenage World as 'Charlie Bartlett' & as Pavel Chekov in 'Star Trek' Reboot". Buzzine. Retrieved August 22, 2011.
  7. ^ Loosemore, Sandra (March 16, 2000). "Junior skaters shouldn't face senior pressure". CBS Sportsline. Archived from the original on October 13, 2008.
  8. ^ Rosewater, Amy (December 26, 2001). "Cohen Continues Her Comeback". The New York Times.
  9. ^ a b c Lorge, Abigail (January 2006). "Cohen's coaching carousel". NBCOlympics.com. Archived from the original on January 17, 2006.
  10. ^ a b Mittan, Barry (December 18, 2003). "Cohen Has Breakout Season". Golden Skate.
  11. ^ Elliott, Helene (August 16, 2002). "Cohen Set to Drop Longtime Coach". Los Angeles Times.
  12. ^ Faulkner, Cynthia (March 27, 2004). "Cohen: Experience a major asset". ESPN.
  13. ^ a b c "Sasha COHEN: 2005/2006". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on June 22, 2006.
  14. ^ "Sasha Cohen returns to former coach John Nicks". ESPN. Associated Press. December 22, 2004.
  15. ^ "Cohen pulls out of 2007 national championships". ABC News. December 22, 2006. Archived from the original on December 11, 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2006.
  16. ^ "Sasha Cohen planning a comeback for Vancouver Olympics". USA Today. May 7, 2009.
  17. ^ Hersh, Philip (May 6, 2009). "Cohen poised for comeback; '06 silver medalist eyes 2010 Vancouver Games". Chicago Tribune. p. 76.
  18. ^ "Cohen withdraws from Grand Prix event". ESPN. Associated Press. October 9, 2009.
  19. ^ "Lingering tendinitis shelves Cohen". ESPN. Associated Press. November 9, 2009.
  20. ^ Macur, Juliet (January 7, 2010). "Cohen Remains the Wild Card in Women's Skating". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Ford, Bonnie D. (January 22, 2010). "Legends bring spark to nationals again". ESPN.
  22. ^ Cohen, Sasha (February 24, 2018). "Sasha Cohen: An Olympian's Guide to Retiring at 25". New York Times. New York, New York. Retrieved August 16, 2021.
  23. ^ "Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame Home".
  24. ^ "Lysacek, Cohen lead five-member U.S. HOF class" (Press release). U.S. Figure Skating. December 25, 2015.
  25. ^ 2003 Skate America SP
  26. ^ "Yu-na, Kwan to do another show in July". The Korea Times. June 4, 2010.
  27. ^ "Sasha Does Hollywood!". SashaCohen.com. Archived from the original on April 12, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2006.
  28. ^ Moondance Alexander at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  29. ^ "The Lede: HBO | The Weight of Gold". Bell Media. Archived from the original on June 10, 2022. Retrieved June 10, 2022. exploring the mental health challenges that Olympic athletes often face.
  30. ^ Casselberry, Ian (July 28, 2020). "HBO's 'The Weight of Gold' a must-watch documentary showing mental health issues Olympic athletes face". AwfulAnnouncing.com. Archived from the original on July 30, 2020. Retrieved June 10, 2022.
  31. ^ "Olympic Figure Skater Sasha Cohen Is Engaged". People. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
  32. ^ "Sasha Cohen Marries Tom May in Cape Cod". Yahoo!. August 22, 2016.
  33. ^ "Newly Single Olympic Skater Sasha Cohen Finds New Purpose in Helping Kids — and a Career in Finance". People. Retrieved February 10, 2018.
  34. ^ "Warren Buffett inspired my journey to Wall Street: Olympic figure skating silver medalist Sasha Cohen". CNBC. February 21, 2018.
  35. ^ Pasquini, Maria (January 22, 2020). "Sasha Cohen Is a Mom! Olympic Figure Skater Welcomes Son Dashiell Lev: 'Completely in Love'". People. Retrieved February 4, 2020.
  36. ^ "Sasha Cohen on Instagram: "Welcome to the world Paloma Jane Lieberthal. ♥️♥️♥️". Instagram. August 24, 2021. Archived from the original on December 26, 2021. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  37. ^ "Sasha Cohen on Instagram: "Married!!!"". Instagram. September 17, 2022. Retrieved September 18, 2022.
  38. ^ "Sasha COHEN: 2004/2005". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on April 3, 2005.
  39. ^ "Sasha COHEN: 2003/2004". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on June 3, 2004.
  40. ^ "Sasha COHEN: 2002/2003". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on June 1, 2003.
  41. ^ "Sasha COHEN: 2001/2002". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on December 2, 2001.
  42. ^ a b "Competition Results: Sasha COHEN". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on July 9, 2013.

External links[edit]

World Records Holder
Preceded by Ladies' Short Program
October 24, 2003 – March 23, 2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ladies' Free Skating
October 25, 2003 – March 24, 2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by Ladies' Total Score
October 25, 2003 – November 26, 2005
Succeeded by