Cohen Didn't Act the Part, so of Course She Didn't Get the Part

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TURIN, Italy — She didn't want to be there.

The dramatic thing about Sasha Cohen on Thursday night wasn't the way she skated her spins and spirals, it was her shudder.

She didn't want to be there.

Difficult to believe, devastating to watch, but as true as that wet patch on her leggings and those ice chips under her fingernails.

She didn't want to be there.

Cohen was the leader before the long program at the Olympic women's figure skating championships, yet she treated her potential triumph as if it were prolonged torture.

She was distracted and eccentric during group warmups. She was reluctant and reticent before her skate.

She took to the ice as uncomfortably as if it were melting. She bounced off her rear on her first jump, fell to her hands on her second jump, and that was that.

Four years, gone in 45 seconds, with an explanation as simple as six words:

She didn't want to be there.

And she basically admitted it.

"I think I was not nervous, but apprehensive, knowing that I missed a lutz and flip in the warmup," she said. "You know, when you go out there and have all the people watching … and you know that your practice hasn't gone completely right, it's hard to feel like you're getting churros at Disneyland."

Hard for silver medalists, perhaps, but easy for champions.

When their team is trailing by a basket in the final seconds, champions want the ball. Just ask Michael Jordan.

When their team trails by two runs in the bottom of the ninth, champions want the bat. Just ask Derek Jeter.

When the going gets tough, for champions, that is Disneyland.

The legacy of Sasha Cohen is that she sees it differently, and thus America will see her differently.

Once thought to be Tim Duncan, she is instead Chris Webber.

Once destined to be Joe Montana, she is instead Peyton Manning.

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