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Arts & Entertainment

Ice stars handle more than jumps and spins

| Friday, March 16, 2007

Figure skater Sasha Cohen has been practicing her ice moves since she was 7 years old.

Her accomplishments during the 2005-06 competitive season included winning her first Olympic medal -- a silver -- at the 2006 winter games in Turin, Italy; her first U.S. National championship, and the bronze medal at the World championships.

After such a banner year, it's hard to imagine her doing anything else.

Still, at the end of the season, rumors were swirling that Cohen was ready to hang up her skates to pursue an acting career -- and she admits she was at least ready to take a break.

"Last year was so intense," she says.

At the young age of 22, she figures if there's a time for her to consider her possibilities, it's right now.

"As a person, I'm so much more than a skater," she says. "I want a chance to explore some other options. I love touring and performing."

Cohen recently was added as a guest artist for selected cities in the Smucker's Stars on Ice 21st annual U.S. tour, "Double Exposure: The Many Lives of Figure Skaters," which stops in Pittsburgh for one performance Saturday. She will be at Mellon Arena, along with fellow guest star, Olympic gold medalist Ilia Kulik, and a dozen other figure-skating Olympic, world and national champions.

If it seems as if Cohen has become starstruck by the glamour of Hollywood, she'd probably be the first to admit it's true.

Now living in Los Angeles, where she relocated from her hometown of Laguna Niguel, Calif., she says she spends her days "skating, acting, auditioning -- and exploring the whole L.A. lifestyle." She takes acting classes five days a week for five hours a day and still finds time to work out at a local ice rink.

She says she had a great time at last year's Academy Awards ceremony.

"After all the hype after the Olympics, it was truly incredible," she says. She took time out from her studies this year to attend a "viewing event" instead of the Oscars.

She also likes to dabble in fashion, although "it's not something I'd put much time into," she says. She did design a dress that she will wear for one of her Stars on Ice solos. One of her numbers will feature Christina Aguilera's pop hit, "Hurt," which Cohen skated to at a live television appearance with Aguilera during the holidays at New York's Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony.

She also has chalked up a few TV credits, appearing in episodes of "Vegas" and "CSI: NY" and recently finished filming her role as a head cheerleader in "Bratz: The Movie," scheduled to open in August. She portrays herself in "Blades of Glory," a comedy starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder that opens in theaters March 30.

Her latest project is a family movie, "Moondance Alexander," still in production in Alberta, Canada, in which she plays a horse show rider who is being trained by actor Don Johnson ("Miami Vice"). No date has been set for the film's release.

When the Stars on Ice tour wraps up the end of March, Cohen says she'll return to training and acting classes -- and she is planning a summer trip to Europe with her family. She assures her skating fans that she will return to competition for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Another Stars on Ice headliner, six-time Canadian National Ladies Champion Jennifer Robinson, also is making a name for herself off the ice. When she's not on tour with the show, she co-hosts a daily TV show called "First Local" in her hometown of Barrie, Ontario. In 2004, she had her first acting role as Michelle Trachtenberg's skating double in the Walt Disney movie, "Ice Princess," which also starred Kim Cattrall.

Unlike Cohen, Robinson says she has no plans to return to competition skating.

"I have no desire to go back. I competed for many years, and I'm ready to turn pro," she says. "I like to entertain and make people laugh."

In Pittsburgh, Robinson will skate solos to Canadian folksinger Joni Mitchell's "At Last" and a song titled "Show Off" from the Broadway musical, "The Drowsy Chaperone."

Additional Information:

Smucker's Stars on Ice

What: 'Double Exposure: The Many Lives of Figure Skaters'

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Admission: $25-$110

Where: Mellon Arena, Uptown

Details: 412-323-1919, Ticketmaster or Stars on Ice

The cast

Besides Sasha Cohen, Ilia Kulik and Jennifer Robinson, other headliners in 'Double Exposure: The Many Lives of Figure Skaters' include:

  • 2002 Olympic pair champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier

  • Two-time Olympic gold medalist Ekaterina Gordeeva

  • 2002 Olympic men's champion and four-time World champion Alexei Yagudin

  • World champion and six-time U.S. National champion Todd Eldredge

  • World champion and two-time Japanese National ladies champion Yuka Sato

  • World bronze medalists and three-time U.S. National pair champions Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman

  • Eight-time British National men's champion Steven Cousins

  • Two-time U.S. National pair champion Jason Dungjen

  • Two-time World bronze medalist and three-time U.S. National men's champion Michael Weiss

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