"It's definitely going to be tough for everyone to do great longs with all of the pressure," the 21-year-old figure skater said after winning the free skate short program Tuesday night. "I'm going to believe in myself and expect the best."
Though Cohen edged two-time world champion Irina Slutskaya of Russia in the short program, the gold medal is hardly a done deal. Slutskaya trails by only .03 points, and former world champion Shizuka Arakawa is behind by .71.
She also won the short program at the 2004 worlds, but a couple of shaky landings and a two-footed triple salchow spoiled her shot at gold. At the Salt Lake City Olympics, Cohen was in third after the short program but dropped to fourth – off the medals podium – with a sloppy free skate.
Of her past failures, Cohen says: "I was a different person, a different athlete," reports the Associated Press. "I've learned and matured so much and learned how to handle the nerves a bit better since then. I've just evolved."