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Flu Affects Cohen's Practice

Coach of Corona del Mar skater says there was 'no thought' given to requesting a medical bye onto Turin team.

January 11, 2006|Helene Elliott | Times Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS — The primary obstacle between Sasha Cohen and her first U.S. figure skating title vanished last week when nine-time champion Michelle Kwan withdrew because of a groin pull. But Cohen has hit an unexpected hurdle: flu.

Cohen, of Corona del Mar, was off the ice for three days and performed only pieces of her short program Tuesday during the first official practice at the Savvis Center before the women's competition begins Thursday. Her coach, John Nicks, said she developed a fever and throat problems Friday night but added there was "no thought" of Cohen requesting a medical bye onto the Turin Olympic team.

Nicks said Cohen performed a "wonderful" version of her program Friday before she became ill. He said her malady apparently was not related to a bout with pneumonia she experienced more than a month ago.

"She's got two things going for her," he said. "She's trained very well, and she's very determined."

Kwan said last week she would petition for a medical bye. Her agent, Shep Goldberg, said Tuesday she would file a formal letter "in the next couple of days."

For Kwan to get a medical bye, U.S. Figure Skating's medical personnel would have to verify that she would be physically ready to compete in Turin. The U.S. Olympic Committee must submit final nominations to Turin organizers by Jan. 30.

It's likely that her selection would hinge on an evaluation by U.S. Figure Skating judges or other representatives. Todd Eldredge, given a medical bye onto the Albertville team after a back injury prevented him from competing at the 1992 U.S. championships, wasn't monitored and finished 10th at the Olympics. Nancy Kerrigan, who was struck on the knee before the 1994 U.S. championships, performed for a panel of four U.S. Figure Skating officials before she was given a bye onto the Lillehammer team.

"Michelle thinks that the way [U.S. Figure Skating] handled the Nancy Kerrigan situation was responsible. You can draw your own conclusions from that," Goldberg said.

The winners in each discipline this week will get an automatic Olympic nomination. The remaining berths will be decided by U.S. Figure Skating's International Committee.

A U.S. Figure Skating spokeswoman said the organization won't comment until it receives a petition from Kwan.

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Skating schedule

The schedule of senior events at the 2006 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in St. Louis (all times Pacific):

Today, 5 p.m., Pairs short program.

* Thursday, 1:15 p.m., Men's short program.

* Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Women's short program.

* Friday, 12:30 p.m., Pairs free skate.

* Friday, 5:30 p.m., Ice dance, free dance.

* Saturday, 11 a.m., Men's free skate.

* Saturday, 4 p.m., Women's free skate.

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