LAKE PLACID, N.Y. // Sasha Cohen isn't here.

Big deal.


You might think the shine would be off Skate America, the next-to-last stop on the Grand Prix circuit, because Cohen dropped out last Monday citing an injury to her right calf.

Nope. A lot of figure skating fans and almost the entire press corps had already written off the 2006 Olympic silver medalist after she withdrew from her first Grand Prix competition in Paris earlier in the fall. Cohen was almost certainly going to have her doors blown off in her first competition in more than three years by Korea's Kim Yu-Na, perhaps the closest thing to guaranteed gold at the Olympics next February.

Unfortunately that first withdrawal only delayed the beat down to this weekend. You could almost feel Cohen's calf muscle -- probably along with other muscles -- tighten up.

So the spotlight here rightfully will shine on Kim, a poised, gracious competitor who glides across the ice like a bead of water on polished glass. Sasha who? Sasha, who cares?

If the pattern continues, Cohen will duck U.S. Nationals in January, where the Olympic team will be chosen. Makes you wonder if the "comeback" is all a public relations gimmick for a woman whose acting career isn't exactly chewing up the scenery -- unless you consider sniffing a jock strap in the movie, Blades of Glory, a breakthrough performance.

Earlier this fall, she blew off the Olympic Media Summit in Chicago, where most of the top U.S. athletes and coaches gathered for interviews. Then she bowed to pressure from the U.S. Olympic Committee to do a call-in session but conducted her end on a cell phone, creating a connection so poor that she was barely understandable.

That's hardly the behavior of a team player embracing the 2010 Olympic spirit. I'm guessing the wheels already are turning on the announcement that Cohen is calling it a career. Buh-bye.

The shame and sham of it all is that on Tuesday, Cohen will be at a posh restaurant next to Rockefeller Center in New York to announce a partnership with the maker of Pepto Bismol.

Far be it from me to lecture Procter and Gamble Co. about how to spend its promotional budget. I'm sure corporate suits were charmed by the saucy vixen with the porcelain skin, expressive brown eyes and Olympic medal. But there are better skaters preparing for U.S. Nationals who could really use the money.

Then again, perhaps Cohen is the perfect pitchwoman for their product -- a remedy for upset stomachs. Too bad it doesn't work on bum calf muscles or a bad case of "allaboutme."


2009 Skate America

* Skate America TV schedule (bottom of article)


* Sun coverage of Kimmie Meissner: Stories | Photos