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Skater Cohen Chats With Bush

February 9, 2002

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ This is one phone call Sasha Cohen won’t ever forget. Neither will her mother.

When the figure skater found out President Bush was going to be standing next to her when he joined the U.S. athletes at the opening ceremony, she called her mother back home in Laguna Niguel, Calif. Galina Cohen wasn’t quite sure what to make of her daughter’s news, thinking it was too incredible to really happen.

Twenty minutes later, though, Sasha Cohen called home again.

``She said, `Mom, the president is sitting right next to me.′ I said, `Really,′ and she said, `Yes, and I’m going to have him talk to you,‴ Galina Cohen said Saturday.

The 17-year-old then passed the phone to Bush and asked if he’d say hello. He took the phone with a smile and obliged.

``First he asked me how I was and where I lived,″ Galina Cohen said. ``He told me my daughter was very well behaved.″

Cohen said Bush didn’t know her name before she introduced herself, but he did know she was a skater.

``He asked me about my skating, and where I’m from, and all kinds of things about the Olympics,″ she said Saturday morning before returning to California to train for the women’s competition, which begins Feb. 19.

``He was really personable, and great to talk to. It made opening ceremonies an even more exciting experience.″

For the whole Cohen family.

``It’s absolutely amazing that something like that could even happen,″ Galina Cohen said. ``We’ll never forget it. And for her, I think it’ll be special for the rest of her life.″

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