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Cohen plans for life outside the 'skating bubble'

Until then, it's Stars on Ice with Lysacek

Sasha Cohen is still skating but is ready to explore life outside the rink.
Sasha Cohen is still skating but is ready to explore life outside the rink. (Getty Images)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(11/19/2010) - "I've made so many new numbers, I hope I remember all the steps," said Sasha Cohen, hard at work preparing for the opening of the 25th anniversary tour of Smucker's Stars on Ice.

Cohen -- who trained for a competitive comeback last fall, placing fourth at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships -- is busier than ever. Some of that is because the 26-year-old is considering a future not solely on ice.

"I'm trying to get a lot of balls in the air, so something lands close to me," she said. "I'm pursuing things outside the skating bubble, so when I break free, I'll know what I want to do and where I'm going."

Goal one is preparing for the SOI opening in Lake Placid, N.Y., on Nov. 27. Cohen arrived in the Adirondacks' hamlet earlier this week ahead of much of the rest of the cast.

"It's good to be back," she said during a break. "Last year, we rehearsed in Florida. There are some nice resorts here, but so far, I've been in the arena all day; there's not much chance to do or see anything else. Evan [Lysacek] and I have been hanging out, catching up, going to dinner, talking about life. I'd go crazy if he wasn't here. I think we'll have a lot of fun collaborating on tour."

The Olympic champion, who combined performing in SOI with his runner-up finish in Dancing with the Stars last season, is slated to do the entire run, which takes a break after Lake Placid and then goes through April 9, 2011. Cohen is also looking forward to performing with Kurt Browning, who is performing full-time on the U.S. tour.

"I'm excited Kurt's doing the tour; he's a special talent, a really inspiring figure. All in all, it's a great cast," she said. "We're still getting an idea of the ensemble numbers; we're still missing a lot of the cast, so we can't put them all together yet. I'm supposed to do one with Kurt.

"We have a great opening -- it's current and has a lot of energy -- and a really fun rock n' roll era ensemble from the 1950s, with the big skirts and all that."

SOI also features Katia Gordeeva, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Todd Eldredge, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, Joannie Rochette and Michael Weiss.

Cohen is handling much of her own choreography for her solo numbers, which she says is nothing new.

"I've always done a lot of my choreography and had people help me put the steps and movements together. I like to do it. For my SOI numbers, I've got some help.

"I'm skating to Cabaret for one of my numbers, "Mein Heir." I did the layout and elements, and then a floor dancer helped me create some hand movements for the ending. For my other number, to "Nobody Knows" by Pink, I worked with [skating choreographer] Phillip Mills; he gave me some help, direction and fine-tuning."

She's also taking an active role creating her costumes.

"Jef Billings does all the group costumes; I bring my own for my individual numbers. My costume for the Pink number won't be ready until Stars on IceJapan; putting together costumes, that's quite a process.

"Since Cabaret is an era piece, I designed it [to be] similar to what Liza Minnelli wore in the movie for the "Mein Herr" number: fishnet [stockings], garter belt, bowler hat."

Cohen also had a collection of Disson Skating shows on her plate this fall. She, along with Lysacek, 2008 world champion Jeff Buttle, Rochette, reigning U.S. champions Rachael Flatt and Jeremy Abbott, Alissa Czisny and Ryan Bradley appear in "Cold-EEZE Improv Ice," featuring live music from Foreigner, which airs Sunday, Nov. 21, from 4-6 p.m. ET. Fans vote for their favorite improvised program at

"Foreigner has so many great songs ["Juke Box Hero;" "Cold as Ice;" "I Want to Know What Love Is," etc.]. I'm lucky my number, "When It Comes to Love," wasn't one of the faster ones. Some numbers are better than others for my type of skating. When you're skating to live music, there's an energy that ignites you."

Cohen emphasized that the set-up -- which has skaters drawing numbers and one hour to prepare a program -- is one hundred percent real.

"We found out our numbers that day, and then had just an hour to practice. I was all on my own. [The number] was a good fit; there were better, there were worse."

After Lake Placid, Cohen is booked for a show in Texas and the Christmas gala in Sun Valley. In December, she is featured in Disson's "The Caesar's Tribute: Salute to the Golden Age of American Skating" in Atlantic City, and a show in Monterrey, Mexico.

From there, it's on to Japan for SOI, Rome and the U.S. and Canadian SOI tours before taking a well-earned vacation, perhaps in Thailand.

Cohen's schedule leaves little time for off-ice pursuits, except those devoted to keeping her fit.

"You need lots of physical therapy when you get old. You hurt more, you break down physically. If you don't fix it right away, you're done.

"Other than that, I love to paint; when I get out of [rehearsal] here at 5 p.m., I'm going out to buy some canvas and acrylics and paint a Lake Placid-inspired masterpiece."

While skating takes up the bulk of Cohen's time, it's not all she's thinking about. Next fall, she may be hitting the books.

"I'm going to New York City after [the SOI] opening, to visit New York University [NYU] and Columbia; I really want to start next year," she said.

"Columbia has a more intensive program for adults, but I love the area around NYU. My goal is to start August or September [of 2011]. Timmy [Goebel] just graduated from Columbia's School of General Studies program, that's what I'm interested in."

When and where Cohen attends college may be determined by television producers: Cohen, who lives in Orange County and has acted in several movies and a CSI: NY, recently brought some TV proposals to Hollywood types. If any pan out, she may take classes at UCLA.

"I developed a few cooking and travel ideas and pitched them to producers. I had fun working on that. My time commitment now is skating, [holding] media days, training, physical therapy. I can't start anything big, but I can research and see what's out there that interests me and pursue the next step."