USA's Cohen Ahead After Short Program

Sasha Cohen of the United States performs her routine during the Women's Short Program in Figure Skating at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2006.
AP
Sasha Cohen saved the best for last. And boy was it good.

With U.S. flags waving and chants of "USA! USA!" rocking the arena, the U.S. champion dazzled the judges with a sassy, sensational short program Tuesday night and slipped past world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia by a slim .03 points.

Cohen's spectacular spirals and crisp footwork had the crowd clapping to the beat of "Dark Eyes," a Russian folk tune. She even flashed some attitude as she concluded a solid evening of skating that will wrap up with Thursday night's free skate.

She got the marks she felt she deserved — and the United States has yet another women's gold in sight.

Americans have won three of the last four Olympic titles, and if Cohen, a two-time world silver medalist, is this dynamic in the finale, she could add another title.

That would break Russia's stranglehold on figure skating golds at these games. No country has swept all four events, but the Russians already own three — pairs, men's and dance.

Also, the U.S. racked up two medals in men's speed skating Tuesday. Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis took their intense rivalry to the place where it belongs — the Olympic speed-skating oval.

But Italy's Enrico Fabris skated past both of them and became a gold medal hero, winning in front of his countrymen. Fabris outskated the American duo to win the men's 1,500-meter race in Turin. Davis and Hedrick settled for silver and bronze, respectively. American Joey Cheek was ninth and Derek Parra came in 19th.

The women go back to the rink Thursday for the long program. CBS News' Manuel Gallegus reports that Cohen has the most experience, but she doesn't have the big jumps of her competitors.

"My personal best is what my main goal will be, because then I know no matter what happens I've won," Cohen said. "I've done everything I could do."


Check the schedule of upcoming events.
Track the current medal count here.
In related developments:
  • Emily Cook's inspiring comeback story ended a day earlier than she'd hoped Tuesday after another disappointing outing for the American freestyle team on the Olympic aerials course. Both Cook and South Dakota-native Jana Lindsey, the only other American entered, failed to qualify for Wednesday night's finals. That left Jeret "Speedy" Peterson as the only one of the six U.S. aerialists, men or women, to advance to the finals. The men's medal round is Thursday.
  • Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto were still on the ice long after getting their silver medals in ice dancing. They posed for pictures, clowned for the crowd, waved the flag and tried to thank every single fan who showed up to cheer them, The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith reports. "This is absolutely amazing," Agosto said Monday night, wearing a smile that looked as if it would never come off. "We really feel this medal belongs to a lot of people who put in years and years of support. And for the teams that came before us and put in years of dedication building the sport of ice dancing in the U.S."
  • Blasting down the Alps in a shiny, dark American convertible, Shauna Rohbock won a silver medal in women's bobsled, ending an 0-for-Olympics stay for the U.S. sliding teams. With roommate Valerie Fleming providing the push and applying the brakes, Rohbock completed her four runs just .71 seconds behind Germany's Sandra Kiriasis and Anja Schneiderheinze and ahead of Italy's Gerde Weissensteiner and Jennifer Isacco.
  • The American men were more than a long shot to medal as a team in the ski jumping event Monday. But they didn't come in last: they ranked 14th out of the 16 teams competing. Anders Johnson, the team's youngest member, was still nursing an injury during competition. His sister, Alissa, who also is a world-class ski jumper, watched from the stands because ski jumping is the only Olympic sport that excludes women. "I wish I could have been here as more than just a spectator," Johnson told CBSNews.com. "I'm glad I got to be here at all, though." Read more about women's ski jumping.
  • The U.S. men's hockey team will play undefeated Finland in one of Wednesday's quarterfinal matches. The U.S. team was assured of moving ahead early in the day when Kazakhstan upended Latvia 5-2. The Americans later dropped a 5-4 decision to Russia to finish the preliminary round with a 1-3-1 record. Canada, which held off the Czech Republic 3-2 on Tuesday, will play Russia. Slovakia beat Sweden 3-0 to win Group B and will play the Czechs. Finland won Group A by beating Germany 2-0, and Switzerland tied Italy 3-3 to finish second behind the Finns and earn a quarterfinal berth against Sweden.