Sasha Cohen Takes Lead After Short Program Washington Post staff writer Amy Shipley talks with Robert Siegel about the first evening of women's individual figure skating competition at the Olympics. Sasha Cohen has a slim lead, and two other Americans are in the top seven spots after completing the short program.

Sasha Cohen Takes Lead After Short Program

Sasha Cohen Takes Lead After Short Program

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Washington Post staff writer Amy Shipley talks with Robert Siegel about the first evening of women's individual figure skating competition at the Olympics. Sasha Cohen has a slim lead, and two other Americans are in the top seven spots after completing the short program.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And now on to more skating of the other kind, figure skating. Today the women skaters completed their short programs. Amy Shipley is covering the figure skating for the Washington Post and she joins up from Turin. And Amy Shipley, Michele Kwan is not skating but there is an American in first place after the short program. Sasha Cohen.

AMY SHIPLEY (Reporter, Washington Post): There is. Sasha Cohen is in first place and in fact Americans are in three of the top seven positions. Kimmy Meissner is in fifth and Emily Hughes is seventh. It was a fabulous night of skating. Very few mistakes and really a great night for the Americans without Michele Kwan.

SIEGEL: What did Sasha Cohen do to end up in first? What was her routine like?

Ms. SHIPLEY: Well she had a beautiful routine and a flawless routine. She didn't do a tripl- triple, sort of the barometer of I guess, you know, really high-level women's skating. I think there were a dearth of those tonight. People were playing it a little more safe although Kimmie Meissner landed one but she had a great complicated, beautiful program. She really sold it. She looked really relaxed and really excited. She is a mere 300ths of a point ahead of Irina Slutskaya. She leads 66.73 to 66.70 so it's incredibly close. And it was an incredible night of skating.

SIEGEL: Now Irina Slutskaya is the, well she's the favorite here. She's considerably older and has won national, world championships. What did she do tonight?

Ms. SHIPLEY: Irina also looked great. I mean, they were, they both put on, you know, a fabulous little duel and, you know, obviously by the little tiny margin separating them it's really a, you know, tossup as to who is the favorite going into the long program. Japan's Shizuka Arakawa also skated brilliantly. She is just, she's less than, what is it? About six tenths of a point behind both of them. And, you know, really it's impossible to say what's going to happen in the long program with the leaders so close. And again you've got two Americans, Kimmie Meissner and Emily Hughes, sixteen and seventeen years old respectively, who are, you know, potentially in the medal mix although neither of them has the complexity in their skating to really be favorites for that right now. But it was really a great night for Americans.

SIEGEL: Well if you have two well-known women skaters, Sasha Cohen and Irina Slutskaya, not neck and neck, nose and nose after the short program with Cohen a little bit ahead, what does the track record say? Are they both equally capable of skating a second great long program or does one typically falter? What do people make of it?

Ms. SHIPLEY: Well, you know, it's, they have very, very different styles and Sasha Cohen certainly has a reputation for falling apart in major competitions in the past. She's been the perennial bridesmaid. Has finished second constantly. You know, she certainly was always following up Michele Kwan at nationals. But she seems like a different, more confident skater this year and that's been something I've seen for the last six months. I'll be interested to see if she holds herself together. Irina Slutskaya, not the graceful artist that Sasha is. Extraordinary jumper, a great spinner, technically talented, speedy across the ice. She's been incredibly consistent this whole year. She's the reigning world champion. So, you know, I would say maybe you sort of give Slutskaya the edge going into the final but if Sasha skates like she did tonight she's just the, you know, the extraordinary, elegant skater I think the judges want to reward.

SIEGEL: Well Amy Shipley thank you very much for talking with us.

Ms. SHIPLEY: Thank you.

SIEGEL: Amy Shipley of the Washington Post on today's women's short program in figure skating. And you can read a daily Olympics dairy, Keep up with the latest results, and see photos from Turin at our website NPR.org. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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