COMMENTSOne can only hope Sasha Cohen was serious when she said two months ago that she wanted to return to competition for the 2010 Olympic season.
Because U.S. women's figure skating can use help.
That was apparent when the women's competition in the Grand Prix ``regular season'' ended Saturday in Japan.
It was, indeed, the end: No U.S. woman has qualified for the Grand Prix Final for just the fourth time in the event's 14-season history.
And this is the second U.S. shutout in the past three years.
Now it may be nearly three seasons since Cohen finished second in the 2006 Olympics and third in the 2006 world championships.
And she may never have transformed her eye-catching style and striking potential into two clean performances in a major competition.
Yet Cohen won three world medals (with two 4ths) and finished first and second in the two Grand Prix finals she made.
And she still is barely 24 years old.
And the Cohen of the 2006 worlds -- implosion in the free skate notwithstanding -- is a better skater than anything the U.S. has now.
Usually, I think Hersh makes good points and I tend to agree with him. But I disagree COMPLETELY here. He's looking back at the Cohen of 2006- which is obviously NOT the Cohen that would appear in 2008 or 2009. Look at the Meissner or Hughes of 2006- they have not been able to keep up that level of skating. What makes him think Cohen wouldn't struggle so as well?
Besides, this is a transition period for US skating and I think someone will emerge to lead US skating forward. Unfortunately, that might mean simply being a Top Eight competitor in the world. It could be worse, though- look at the nosedive Russia has taken since nearly sweeping the FS golds in Torino.
ETA: NBC would jump all over this one, though. Having a "big name" like Cohen in the mix would be a huge promotional opportunity for them.