Cohen takes charge

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

When Sasha Cohen skates the way Sasha Cohen can skate, no one can touch her.

She proved that yesterday at the Saddledome, leaping from fifth overall following Wednesday's qualifying to the top of the standings at the world figure skating championships.

"You just have to believe, no matter what," the U.S. champion and Olympic silver medallist said, following the short program for which she earned 66.62 points.

"When the odds are against you, it's the only way it's possible. You have to have the competitive spirit to make something happen even when things are tough.

"You never know what you can do unless you give it 100 percent."

Cohen fell apart in the second half of her qualifying program and sounded defeated afterwards, saying winning the world title wasn't that important.

But she seemed to have her competitive fire back yesterday, although her short program, Dark Eyes, still wasn't perfect as she two-footed the Lutz in her triple Lutz-double toe combo.

"I can do all these jumps 99.9 percent in practice," she said. "It's (about) making it happen when I'm out there."

Cohen has a 94.21 total, almost four points ahead of Fumie Suguri of Japan at 90.59. Kimmie Meissner of the U.S. sits third at 88.63, while Canadian champion Joannie Rochette tumbled from first overall to fifth.

The 20-year-old from Ile Dupas, Que., stumbled between jumps on her triple Lutz-double toe combo and then popped her double Axel. With a 56.38 score in the short program, she has an 85.66 total, less than three points behind Meissner and a podium spot.

"I'm saddened," Rochette said.

"I'm capable of much more. This week, I've been skating very good in practices. I don't remember missing a jump since I arrived here. If I would be in 10th place with a clean performance, I would be more happy than being in fifth with mistakes like that."

Skating last for the first time on the international stage and following Cohen, she felt a bit of pressure.

"I know in the final (flight) at worlds, everyone is going to skate good," said Rochette, who finished fifth in Turin -- Canada's best Olympic result since Liz Manley's silver in 1988.

"But that doesn't matter. You have to skate anyways ... I felt very good on the ice. The mistake just happened because of a lack of focus at the end."

Rochette drew the last group again for today's free skate, which starts at noon.

She skates after the three leaders, so she'll know what she has to do in her long program, Les Feuilles Mortes.

"I just want to finish on a good note," said Rochette.

Fellow Canadian Mira Leung of Vancouver dropped from ninth overall to 14th, singling her double Axel.

Leung scored 49.49 and has a 74.26 total.

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STANDINGS

AFTER SHORT PROGRAM

1. Sasha Cohen, U.S., 94.21 points

2. Fumie Suguri, Japan, 90.59

3. Kimmie Meissner, U.S., 88.63

4. Yukari Nakano, Japan, 87.41

5. Joannie Rochette, Ile Dupas, Que., 85.66

6. Elena Sokolova, Russia, 85.40

7. Sarah Meier, Switzerland, 85.15

8. Emily Hughes, U.S., 79.91

9. Kiira Korpi, Finland, 78.76

10. Susanna Poykio, Finland, 77.41.

ALSO

14. Mira Leung, Vancouver, 74.26


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