I had the unexpected opportunity to go see the Championship Ladies Short Program last night, at the Spokane Arena. (Spokane is hosting the 2010 ice skating championships. Two spots for the women's Olympic team will be decided based on these outcomes.) I don't think I've ever seen a skating competition before - not that I remember, anyway. So it was a special treat to go - especially since I had watched the practice session the day before and so had a sense of who would be skating, and how they were doing.
The big question: how was Sasha Cohen going to perform? She is Oksana Baiul-like, only American - and stronger, perhaps. (You remember Oksana Baiul - that elegant, fragile Ukranian skater from 1994 who took the wind out of the sails of the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding drama, and who has had her ups and downs since then...) When Sasha Cohen skated during the practice session Wednesday, you could see her command. There is just something different about her. Now, the question was: could she perform?
She could. She landed it all, last night. The crowd literally erupted, we were all so excited. She was excited too, her face flushed, not just from skating but from the success of it all.
And her first number from the judges - nearly 40 points - she was going to run away with it!
Until the second number. And then the deflation, for the entire crowd. Some boos, even. The composite landed her in second place, in spite of her brilliant skate. She missed first place by less than half a point, and is separated from third by about the same margin. So it's up in the air, what will happen on Saturday, during the finale free skate (long program).
I don't want to take away from the other leaders - I loved their skating too - but it felt like it should have been Sasha's night. No matter. One thing will lead to another. Another day, another score. Let's see what Saturday brings.