Is she through with the Olympics, with the wearying process of getting there? Will she become just another ice show pixie? It appears she may not be done. Cohen has indicated that she may skate in Vancouver four years from now as long as her body permits.
This will not be an easy transition for Cohen, 21, who is a ’tweener in both age and accomplishment. The gold medalists disappear in a hurry. We know that. Not one of them since Katarina Witt ever came back for another Olympics, and Witt only did that back in 1988 because the East Germans didn’t let her cash in on her accomplishments.
Kristi Yamaguchi, Oksana Baiul, Tara Lipinski, Sarah Hughes, they all vaguely talked about hanging in there before quickly vanishing from competitive skating. Already yesterday, the gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa of Japan was looking for a graceful exit, too.
“It’ll make me happy if I skate in ice show events, and hopefully I’d like to be a skater making people want to come and watch as long as possible,” Arakawa, 24, said.
Unlike Arakawa, Cohen has good reason to return. She isn’t an Olympic champ. That same void in Michelle Kwan’s trophy case is what kept the nine-time U.S. champion showing up for practice, again and again.
Cohen still beats them all on presence and grace, but she never enjoyed the work in the rinks. She called herself “Grandma” for most of this competition, spoke about being the elder statesman on the team. She has been enduring injuries and pain, confessing to small agonies following her performance in the long program.
Cohen said she fought off nagging injuries, sore muscles down the inside of her legs and hamstrings that caused her to swallow a batch of pills before each practice and performance. She listed her medications and treatments, a grocery list at the local pharmacy.
“It’s been a rough time for me,” she said. “I don’t even know the names of all the muscles. Nagging things, on and off. I’ve done the best to push through them. It’s been hard in training. I had enough medication where I felt good.”