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Cohen Set to Drop Longtime Coach

Figure skating: Laguna Niguel teenager leaving Nicks for Russians Tarasova and Morozov.

August 16, 2002|HELENE ELLIOTT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Figure skater Sasha Cohen of Laguna Niguel, whose balletic grace propelled her to a second-place finish at this year's U.S. Championships and fourth place at the Salt Lake City Olympics, has left longtime coach John Nicks to work with Tatiana Tarasova and Nikolai Morozov in Newington, Conn.

Cohen will announce the switch today in a conference call with reporters.

Tarasova's most recent triumph was guiding Alexei Yagudin to the men's gold medal at Salt Lake City. She previously coached Olympic and world medalists Ilia Kulik, Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev, Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponamarenko, Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, and Oksana Grischuk and Evgeny Platov.

She and Morozov are known for devising compelling choreography, a chore Cohen and Nicks had handled. She's also known for her political pull, a key asset in a sport swayed by personal influence and based on subjective judging. Two fellow Russians, Alexander Lakernik and Alexandr Gorshkov, head the International Skating Union's powerful technical committee and ice dance committee, respectively.

Nicks and Cohen had consulted Tarasova and Morozov this summer and agreed Cohen would occasionally polish her programs under their guidance. However, Cohen apparently decided training with them full-time would accelerate her progress.

Nicks declined to comment Thursday.

"I think there's some sort of announcement [today] and I'd just as soon leave it at that," he said.

Cohen, who recently completed high school and will turn 18 in October, could not be reached for comment. Her mother, Galina, a native of Ukraine who moved to the U.S. as a teenager, said she was wrapping up the business affairs of her recently deceased father and could not talk about her daughter's skating before today.

*

Ice dancer Marina Anissina, implicated in the alleged plot to fix the pairs and ice dance events at the Salt Lake City Games, and partner Gwendal Peizerat were questioned by the French Olympic Committee about their knowledge of the scheme. Her agent, Liz DeSevo, said Anissina has been advised to hire an attorney in the U.S., but added that her client has not been subpoenaed by U.S. authorities.

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