At the age of 15, Sasha Cohen burst onto the U.S. figure skating scene with a silver medal win in the 2000 National Championship. She's been a brilliant presence in the skating world ever since, taking home the silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and most recently starring alongside other skating greats in the 2012 national tour of "Stars on Ice," in Chicago March 11.
Windy City Times broke the ice with this elegant athlete and got the inside scoop on her life in the spotlight.
Windy City Times: Do you have any special talents that your fans might not be familiar with?
Sasha Cohen: I design my costumes, which I love to do. I am a big fan of financials and Wall Street, which is something I'm studying now in school. I love to travel. I love to taste wine. I don't cook anymore because I live in a studio in New York. [ Laughs ]
WCT: Where are you going to school?
Sasha Cohen: Columbia. I'm just starting, but it looks like I'm probably going to major in financial econ.
WCT: You must have a lot on your plate right now, touring nationally with Stars on Ice while going to school at the same time.
Sasha Cohen: Yeah, it actually worked out that I can do shows on the weekends and go to school during the week and, you know, sleep a little on the plane. [ Laughs ] And, yeah, it's been great. I've been studying up in New York. I have a wonderful social life. I've made a lot of friends. It's so easy to network and it's just been good to me. So I'm really enjoying this transitional part of my life.
WCT: How many cities have you toured so far with "Stars On Ice?"
Sasha Cohen: You know, in previous years we had bigger markets. We were playing 50, 60 shows a year. But this year we're just doing 10 shows [ in the United States ] . I just did five shows in Japan for Stars on Ice.
WCT: In "Stars on Ice," you're performing with a cast of renowned figure skaters the likes of Kurt Browning, Joannie Rochette and Ilia Kulik. What happens when great figure skaters band together to put on a show, rather than competing with each other?
Sasha Cohen: You see a really incredible collaboration come to life in the big numbers. We're skating to really interesting pop songs. This year, we're doing Florence and the Machine and Adele with super-innovative choreography.
WCT: What song are you doing by Adele?
Sasha Cohen: "Rolling In The Deep." The show is really great. People who aren't usually skating fans or have only seen it on TV [ are ] blown away by the athleticism and the sheer speed and height on the ice right in front of [ them ] .
WCT: Figure skating has garnered a reputation as a gay-friendly sport. What's your relationship like with your gay fans?
Sasha Cohen: I love all my fans equally. I think that skating has fashion, grace, beauty, and so many things about it that would attract people that are in the fashion world. It's great to have all different kinds of fanswhich skating doesbecause people appreciate it for the courage and the athleticism it requires, as well as the grace and beauty. So I love that the fans are diverse and you get appreciation from all angles.
WCT: You do a lot of charity work. What are some causes you've championed and some that you're looking to get involved with?
Sasha Cohen: I work with Figure Skating in Harlem, which helps to mentor and tutor girls who are involved in skating and have a certain grade point average. It's a structural, supportive program that really integrates a feeling of community. I've worked with Make A Wish Foundation. It's very hard for me to pick one cause, too. I just feel truly blessed to be able to help out in many areas.
WCT: Will you be competing for the trials for the 2014 Winter Olympics?
Sasha Cohen: I will not. I have had a really lengthy and a great competitive career. At this point in my life, I really enjoy doing shows and going to school, and I have other ambitions and interests that I'm currently pursuing.
WCT: You're known as one of the best figure skating artists the United States has ever produced. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Sasha Cohen: You know, I ask myself this every day. Hopefully, I will have graduated with a degree from Columbia by then. I am working with a fashion company now. I would love to produce a line of clothing. I would also like to dabble and see where I belong in finance. It's something I really love and I have an affinity for the market. Just this year and last year is when I feel like I came into my own. I got to live by myself, make new friends outside of skating, and embrace all the other opportunities that life, and particularly New York, has to offer. So I think the next few years are about growth and experimenting, for me.
WCT: And do you see yourself moving away from the world of figure skating in the next few years?
Sasha Cohen: I think skating will always be a part of me and I'll always skate; there's no workout like skating. And in a lot of the charity events I work with, skating is an integral component. But, yes, I would like to see what else is out there. There are so many amazing things going on in this world that I had to have my blinders on to before, because of training and touring. So I want to see what else is out there and explore different possibilities.
Sasha Cohen can be seen in "Stars on Ice" on Sunday, March 11, at Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont, at 5 p.m. See www.starsonice.com for tickets and additional information.