On Saturday, I had the opportunity to chat with Sasha Cohen, the 2006 Winter Olympics silver medalist, who breezed through town to perform at the Embarcadero Center ice skating rink en route to Russia for the Stars on Ice tour. The figure skating expo (which also featured a local youth synchronized skating troupe, the Tremors) was part of Starbucks’ Spread the Holiday Cheer promotion and fundraiser for the non-profit music organization Little Kids Rock. Amid the bustling Justin Herman Plaza, the coffee giant hosted free skating for the public all day, while its perky (read: over-caffeinated) employees handed out complimentary beverages, pastries and gift cards.
Over hot mochas, Cohen and I sat in the VIP tent before her routine to discuss her next competitive prospects (“The 2010 Olympics—If my body holds up.”); her cameo on the Will Farrell comedy “Blades of Glory” (“So much fun and it got a lot of people interested in figure skating.”); and her penchant for fashion design (“I’ve been designing my own costumes since I was 12!”). How exactly does the champion athlete find design inspiration? “First you hear the music,” says Cohen, 23, “then you see the colors in your mind. It starts with one sketch with colored pencils. Then I take my sketch to the dressmaker and talk about the details like beading, and what will work on the ice. She creates a sample and then we do several fittings. It’s a really fun process!”
Cohen getting ready for a warm-up before her performance.
Cohen performing before a packed audience at the Embarcadero ice rink.
Cohen (center) with the San Francisco Tremors.
Photography courtesy of Edric Itchon