NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. figure skating champion Sasha Cohen aims to win her first major international gold medal at next week's world championships and then evaluate opportunities beyond skating, including an acting career.
Olympic silver medalist Cohen, runner-up the past two world championships, is clear favorite in Calgary as Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa of Japan and 2005 world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia, Turin's bronze medalist, are absent.
"I want a world championship," Cohen said in a telecon call on Friday. "I think I'm very capable and I've become a tougher competitor. I think it's very much within my reach."
Cohen is participating in the 5-month-long Champions on Ice tour following the world championships. The 21-year-old Californian said she will also be pondering her future.
"I'm definitely taking it one step at a time. I do love what I do and the satisfaction I get out of skating," she said.
"But figure skating is not what it used to be. It is disheartening to skate to half-empty arenas. It makes it less rewarding when they're not there.
"Aside from the Olympics we are skating in arenas that are half full and that is always a little bit disappointing."
Cohen took a week's break from skating after her disappointment in Turin, where she fell out of first place after falling in her free skate. Besides allowing some nagging injuries to heal, she did some television work and hobnobbed with celebrities during Oscars festivities.
"I am very full of life and there is so much to explore. I would love to act and to travel, all these things I can't do while I'm skating," Cohen said. "I'll see what opportunities I have and where I want to go."
Cohen said she has already spoken with comic film actor Ben Stiller about a role in a figure skating movie he is planning and that her manager has been receiving lots of offers.
Despite a "huge emotional and physical letdown after the Olympics," Cohen said she is excited about the worlds.
"I'm feeling really prepared and confident now," she said, acknowledging her road to gold is easier without Arakawa and Slutskaya in the field.
"Of course I want to win the worlds," she added, but noted that even in losing, she took something positive from Turin, where she recovered to finish strong.
"To be able to come back from that kind of program took a lot of courage," she said. "I think it gives you a building block in your character."